Repurposing Drugs to Treat Thyroid Cancer

July 11, 2013
Marcia Brose, MD, PhD

Marcia Brose, MD, PhD, from the University of Pennsylvania, on repurposing drugs to treat thyroid cancer.

Marcia Brose, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery in the Abramson Cancer Center and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses repurposing drugs to treat thyroid cancer.

Several chemotherapies have been tried in thyroid cancer, Brose says. It is exciting that 70% of differentiated thyroid cancers are associated with gene mutations and genetic changes associated with kinases. Researchers sought, and found, drugs that work in other cancers and repurposed them for thyroid cancers.

In the case of an orphan disease, pharmaceutical companies have often tried to develop their drug in other areas first, Brose says. As a result of the Cancer Genome Atlas and the known information about the similarities of cancers, researchers can repurpose drugs effectively. This is great news for the treatment of orphan diseases.

Clinical Pearls I

Brose says that her patients are in first-, second-, and third-line clinical trials, while patients with other cancers have first-, second-, and third-line treatments. The hope is that sorafenib will be the first of many drugs to improve the outcome of differentiated thyroid cancer.

  • 70% of differentiated thyroid cancers are associated with gene mutations and genetic changes associated with kinases
  • Researchers sought drugs that worked in other cancers and found that they were a good match for thyroid cancer

Clinical Pearls

  • Because of the Cancer Genome Atlas and the knowledge of disease similarities, researchers are repurposing oncology drugs
  • Brose hopes sorafenib will be the first of many drugs to improve outcomes in thyroid cancer