Novel treatments for anaplastic thyroid carcinoma

Silvia Martina Ferrari, Giusy Elia, Francesca Ragusa, Ilaria Ruffilli, Concettina La Motta, Sabrina Rosaria Paparo, Armando Patrizio, Roberto Vita, Salvatore Benvenga, Gabriele Materazzi, Poupak Fallahi, Alessandro Antonelli


Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is one of the deadliest human cancers and it is less than 2% of thyroid carcinomas (TCs). The standard treatment of ATC includes surgical debulking, accelerated hyperfractionated external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), and chemotherapy, in particular with cisplatin or doxorubicin, achieving about 10 months of median survival. Since ATC is a rare and aggressive tumor, it is still challenging to predict the patient clinical therapy responsiveness. Several genetic mutations have been described in ATC, involved in different molecular pathways linked to tumor progression, and novel therapies acting on these molecular pathways have been investigated, to improve the quality of life in these patients. Here we review the new targeted therapy of ATC. We report interesting results obtained with molecules targeting different pathways: angiogenesis (vandetanib, combretastatin, sorafenib, lenvatinib, sunitinib, CLM94, CLM3, etc.); EGFR (gefitinib, docetaxel); BRAF (dabrafenib/trametinib, vemurafenib); PPARγ agonists (rosiglitazone, pioglitazone, efatutazone); PD-1 and PD-L1 (pembrolizumab); TERT. To escape resistance to monotherapies, the evaluation of combination strategies with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or targeted drugs is ongoing. The results of clinical trials with dabrafenib and trametinib led to the approval from FDA of this combination for patients with BRAF V600E mutated ATC with locally advanced, unresectable, or metastatic ATC. The anti-PD-L1 antibody immunotherapy, alone or combined with a BRAF inhibitor, has been shown also promising in the treatment of ATC. Furthermore, to increase the therapeutic success and not to use ineffective or even harmful treatments, a real tailored therapy should be pursued, and this can be achieved thanks to the new available genomic analysis methods and to the possibility to test in vitro novel treatments directly in primary cells from each ATC patient. Exploring new treatment strategies is mandatory to improve the survival of these patients, guaranteeing a good quality of life.