Research ArticleAnaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Pazopanib Enhances Paclitaxel-Induced Mitotic Catastrophe in Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Science Translational Medicine  02 Jan 2013:
Vol. 5, Issue 166, pp. 166ra3
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004358

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Shedding Light on Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

The aurora borealis—or northern lights—are caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere. These relatively rare combinations result in vast light shows in the night sky. Now, Isham et al. report that another combination—the drugs pazopanib and microtubule inhibitors such as paclitaxel—may have synergistic effects on anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) through another type of aurora—aurora kinase A.

ATC is a rare but deadly form of thyroid cancer with poor prognosis because it is resistant to many cancer treatments. The authors hypothesized that pazopanib therapy, which has shown some efficacy against ATC, could have improved effects when used in combination therapy. They found that microtubule inhibitors such as paclitaxel had synergistic effects with pazopanib in ATC cells and xenografts. Mitotic catastrophe was mediated through synergistic targeting of aurora kinase A. These results suggest not only that combination therapy may improve ATC prognosis but also that aurora A may provide a strong therapeutic target for this intractable disease.