Overcoming Thyroid Cancer Resistance

BRAF mutations may restore RAI efficacy in papillary carcinomas

(RxWiki News) Thyroid cancer is usually successfully treated with surgery. The problem is - this is one of the cancers that tends to reappear. New research has uncovered a means for overcoming a common obstacle in treating thyroid cancer.

BRAF gene mutations occur in about 25 percent of thyroid cancers, particularly high-grade tumors that often become resistant to standard treatments with radioactive iodine (RAI). Researchers have found that targeting the BRAF mutations may help these tumors become more responsive to therapy.

"Work with your healthcare team to develop a comprehensive cancer care plan."

Researchers, led by James Fagin, M.D., chief of Endocrinology Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, have found a way to work with BRAF mutations in papillary carcinoma, the most common type of thyroid cancer.

Dr. Fagin and his team first discovered that thyroid cancers were what they called "exquisitely dependent on BRAF for viability."

Next, the team treated mice with thyroid tumors with drugs that blocked the BRAF signaling pathway. They found that this therapy made the tumor cells more responsive to therapeutic doses of RAI.

Researchers suggest this data provides enough evidence for clinical trials to be conducted which will focus on restoring RAI therapy efficacy in patients with papillary thyroid cancers who have BRAF mutations.

This research was published in November, 2011 edition of Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Review Date: 
November 21, 2011