Through the mentorship process, Dr. Arthur Pardee emphasized the critical importance of bidirectional translational research-not only advancing drug development from bench to bedside, but also bringing back precious clinical material to the laboratory to assess the biologic effects of therapeutic agents on their targets. This mini-review focuses on the signal transduction pathways of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and on how the knowledge of such pathways has led to the rational development of molecularly targeted pathogenesis-driven therapies. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) related-KS results from co-infection with human immunodeficiency virus and KS herpesvirus/human herpesvirus-8 (KSHV/HHV8), which leads to the development of an angiogenic-inflammatory state that is critical in the pathogenesis of KS. KS is driven by KSHV/HHV8-specific pathways, which include viral G protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR), viral interleukin-6 (vIL-6), and viral chemokine homologues. In addition, cellular growth/angiogenic pathways, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), insulin-like growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), angiopoietin and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are "pirated" by KSHV/HHV8. As a very tangible example of how translational research has led to a marked improvement in patient outcome, the signal transduction inhibitor imatinib (a tyrosine kinase inhibitor of c-kit and PDGF) was administered to patients with KS whose tumors were serially biopsied. Not only did the patients' tumors regress, but also the regression was correlated with the inhibition of PDGF receptor (PDGFR) in the biopsy samples. Recent and future clinical trials of molecularly targeted therapy for the treatment of KS are a prelude to a shift in the paradigm of how KS is managed.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.