Objective: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is frequently diagnosed in patients with late-stage disease who are ineligible for curative surgical therapies. The majority of patients become resistant to sorafenib, the only approved first-line therapy for advanced cancer, underscoring the need for newer, more effective drugs. The purpose of this study is to expedite identification of novel drugs against sorafenib resistant (SR)-HCC. Methods: We employed a transcriptomics-based drug repurposing method termed connectivity mapping using gene signatures from in vitro-derived SR Huh7 HCC cells. For proof of concept validation, we focused on drugs that were FDA-approved or under clinical investigation and prioritized two anti-neoplastic agents (dasatinib and fostamatinib) with targets associated with HCC. We also prospectively validated predicted gene expression changes in drug-treated SR Huh7 cells as well as identified and validated the targets of Fostamatinib in HCC. Results: Dasatinib specifically reduced the viability of SR-HCC cells that correlated with up-regulated activity of SRC family kinases, its targets, in our SR-HCC model. However, fostamatinib was able to inhibit both parental and SR HCC cells in vitro and in xenograft models. Ingenuity pathway analysis of fostamatinib gene expression signature from LINCS predicted JAK/STAT, PI3K/AKT, ERK/MAPK pathways as potential targets of fostamatinib that were validated by Western blot analysis. Fostamatinib treatment reversed the expression of genes that were deregulated in SR HCC. Conclusion: We provide proof of concept evidence for the validity of this drug repurposing approach for SR-HCC with implications for personalized medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2730
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Dasatinib
  • Drug repurposing
  • Drug resistance
  • Fostamatinib
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Sorafenib


Dive into the research topics of 'Transcriptomics-based drug repurposing approach identifies novel drugs against sorafenib-resistant hepatocellular carcinoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this