PURPOSE: Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rare but lethal malignancy without any effective therapy. The aim of this study is to use a high-throughput drug library screening to identify a novel therapeutic agent that targets dysregulated genes/pathways in ATC.EXPERIMENTALDESIGN: We performed quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) in ATC cell lines using a compound library of 3,282 drugs. Dysregulated genes in ATC were analyzed using genome-wide expression analysis and immunohistochemistry in human ATC tissue samples and ATC cell lines. In vitro and in vivo studies were performed for determining drug activity, effectiveness of targeting, and the mechanism of action.RESULTS: qHTS identified 100 active compounds in three ATC cell lines. One of the most active agents was the first-in-class survivin inhibitor YM155. Genome-wide expression analysis and immunohistochemistry showed overexpression of survivin in human ATC tissue samples, and survivin was highly expressed in all ATC cell lines tested. YM155 significantly inhibited ATC cellular proliferation. Mechanistically, YM155 inhibited survivin expression in ATC cells. Furthermore, YM155 treatment reduced claspin expression, which was associated with S-phase arrest in ATC cells. In vivo, YM155 significantly inhibited growth and metastases and prolonged survival.CONCLUSIONS: Our data show that YM155 is a promising anticancer agent for ATC and that its target, survivin, is overexpressed in ATC. Our findings support the use of YM155 in clinical trials as a therapeutic option in advanced and metastatic ATC.