To see August’s Brain Tumor Research Highlights, click here.
Over the years, NBTS has given more than $35 million to brain tumor research projects. We’re very proud of the impact this funding has made in advancing the neuro-oncology field closer to better treatments and ultimately a cure. And while NBTS is currently focused on driving our flagship research projects – like the Defeat GBM (glioblastoma) Research Collaborative – forward, there also continues to be great scientific research efforts happening in the neuro-oncology field, en masse. This is critical, as no one researcher, one lab, or one institution can cure this disease alone. Below are highlights of some newly published research from the brain tumor scientific and medical community, compiled by NBTS Research Programs Manager, Amanda Bates:
Preclinical Research News:
Targeting neuronal activity-regulated neuroligin-3 dependency in high-grade glioma: Venkatesh HS, Tam LT, Woo PJ et al (2017) Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature24014 – link to paper
High-grade gliomas (HGG) are a devastating group of cancers, and represent the leading cause of brain tumour-related death in both children and adults. Therapies aimed at mechanisms intrinsic to glioma cells have translated to only limited success; effective therapeutic strategies will need also to target elements of the tumour microenvironment that promote glioma progression. Neuronal activity promotes the growth of a range of molecularly and clinically distinct HGG types, including adult and paediatric glioblastoma (GBM), anaplastic oligodendroglioma, and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG)1. An important mechanism that mediates this neural regulation of brain cancer is activity-dependent cleavage and secretion of the synaptic adhesion molecule neuroligin-3 (NLGN3), which promotes glioma proliferation through the PI3K–mTOR pathway1. However, the necessity of NLGN3 for glioma growth, the proteolytic mechanism of NLGN3 secretion, and the further molecular consequences of NLGN3 secretion in glioma cells remain unknown. Here we show that HGG growth depends on microenvironmental NLGN3, identify signalling cascades downstream of NLGN3 binding in glioma, and determine a therapeutically targetable mechanism of secretion. Patient-derived orthotopic xenografts of paediatric GBM, DIPG and adult GBM fail to grow in Nlgn3 knockout mice. NLGN3 stimulates several oncogenic pathways, such as early focal adhesion kinase activation upstream of PI3K–mTOR, and induces transcriptional changes that include upregulation of several synapse-related genes in glioma cells. NLGN3 is cleaved from both neurons and oligodendrocyte precursor cells via the ADAM10 sheddase. ADAM10 inhibitors prevent the release of NLGN3 into the tumour microenvironment and robustly block HGG xenograft growth. This work defines a promising strategy for targeting NLGN3 secretion, which could prove transformative for HGG therapy.
Multi-focal sequencing of a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma establishes PTEN loss as an early event: Koschmann C, Farooqui Z, Kasaian K et al (2017) npj Precision Oncology, DOI: 10.1038/s41698-017-0033-y – link to paper
Improved molecular understanding is needed for rational treatment of diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG). Here, using multi-focal paired tumor and germline exome DNA and RNA sequencing, we uncovered phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) loss as a clonal mutation in the case of a 6-year-old boy with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, and incorporated copy number alteration analyses to provide a more detailed understanding of clonal evolution in diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas. As well, using the PedcBioPortal, we found alterations in PTEN in 16 of 326 (4.9%) cases of pediatric high-grade glioma (3 of 154 (1.9%) brainstem) for which full sequencing data was available. Our data strengthens the association with PTEN loss in diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas and provides further argument for the inclusion of PTEN in future targeted sequencing panels for pediatric diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas and for the development and optimization of mTOR/PI3K inhibitors with optimal central nervous system penetration.
Clinical Research News:
Rindopepimut with temozolomide for patients with newly diagnosed, EGFRvIII-expressing glioblastoma (ACT IV): a randomised, double-blind, international phase 3 trial: Weller M, Butowski N, Tran DD et al (2017) The Lancet Oncology, DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(17)30517-X – link to paper
Rindopepimut (also known as CDX-110), a vaccine targeting the EGFR deletion mutation EGFRvIII, consists of an EGFRvIII-specific peptide conjugated to keyhole limpet haemocyanin. In the ACT IV study, we aimed to assess whether or not the addition of rindopepimut to standard chemotherapy is able to improve survival in patients with EGFRvIII-positive glioblastoma.
In this randomised, double-blind, phase 3 trial, we recruited patients aged 18 years and older with glioblastoma from 165 hospitals in 22 countries. Eligible patients had newly diagnosed glioblastoma confirmed to express EGFRvIII by central analysis, and had undergone maximal surgical resection and completion of standard chemoradiation without progression. Patients were stratified by European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer recursive partitioning analysis class, MGMT promoter methylation, and geographical region, and randomly assigned (1:1) with a prespecified randomisation sequence (block size of four) to receive rindopepimut (500 μg admixed with 150 μg GM-CSF) or control (100 μg keyhole limpet haemocyanin) via monthly intradermal injection until progression or intolerance, concurrent with standard oral temozolomide (150–200 mg/m2 for 5 of 28 days) for 6–12 cycles or longer. Patients, investigators, and the trial funder were masked to treatment allocation. The primary endpoint was overall survival in patients with minimal residual disease (MRD; enhancing tumour <2 cm2 post-chemoradiation by central review), analysed by modified intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01480479.
Between April 12, 2012, and Dec 15, 2014, 745 patients were enrolled (405 with MRD, 338 with significant residual disease [SRD], and two unevaluable) and randomly assigned to rindopepimut and temozolomide (n=371) or control and temozolomide (n=374). The study was terminated for futility after a preplanned interim analysis. At final analysis, there was no significant difference in overall survival for patients with MRD: median overall survival was 20·1 months (95% CI 18·5–22·1) in the rindopepimut group versus 20·0 months (18·1–21·9) in the control group (HR 1·01, 95% CI 0·79–1·30; p=0·93). The most common grade 3–4 adverse events for all 369 treated patients in the rindopepimut group versus 372 treated patients in the control group were: thrombocytopenia (32 [9%] vs 23 [6%]), fatigue (six [2%] vs 19 [5%]), brain oedema (eight [2%] vs 11 [3%]), seizure (nine [2%] vs eight [2%]), and headache (six [2%] vs ten [3%]). Serious adverse events included seizure (18 [5%] vs 22 [6%]) and brain oedema (seven [2%] vs 12 [3%]). 16 deaths in the study were caused by adverse events (nine [4%] in the rindopepimut group and seven [3%] in the control group), of which one—a pulmonary embolism in a 64-year-old male patient after 11 months of treatment—was assessed as potentially related to rindopepimut.
Rindopepimut did not increase survival in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma. Combination approaches potentially including rindopepimut might be required to show efficacy of immunotherapy in glioblastoma.
Interim results from the CATNON trial (EORTC study 26053-22054) of treatment with concurrent and adjuvant temozolomide for 1p/19q non-co-deleted anaplastic glioma: a phase 3, randomised, open-label intergroup study: van den Bent MJ, BaumertB, Erridge SC et al (2017) The Lancet, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31442-3 – link to paper
The role of temozolomide chemotherapy in newly diagnosed 1p/19q non-co-deleted anaplastic gliomas, which are associated with lower sensitivity to chemotherapy and worse prognosis than 1p/19q co-deleted tumours, is unclear. We assessed the use of radiotherapy with concurrent and adjuvant temozolomide in adults with non-co-deleted anaplastic gliomas.
This was a phase 3, randomised, open-label study with a 2 × 2 factorial design. Eligible patients were aged 18 years or older and had newly diagnosed non-co-deleted anaplastic glioma with WHO performance status scores of 0–2. The randomisation schedule was generated with the electronic EORTC web-based ORTA system. Patients were assigned in equal numbers (1:1:1:1), using the minimisation technique, to receive radiotherapy (59·4 Gy in 33 fractions of 1·8 Gy) alone or with adjuvant temozolomide (12 4-week cycles of 150–200 mg/m2 temozolomide given on days 1–5); or to receive radiotherapy with concurrent temozolomide 75 mg/m2 per day, with or without adjuvant temozolomide. The primary endpoint was overall survival adjusted for performance status score, age, 1p loss of heterozygosity, presence of oligodendroglial elements, and MGMT promoter methylation status, analysed by intention to treat. We did a planned interim analysis after 219 (41%) deaths had occurred to test the null hypothesis of no efficacy (threshold for rejection p<0·0084). This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00626990.
At the time of the interim analysis, 745 (99%) of the planned 748 patients had been enrolled. The hazard ratio for overall survival with use of adjuvant temozolomide was 0·65 (99·145% CI 0·45–0·93). Overall survival at 5 years was 55·9% (95% CI 47·2–63·8) with and 44·1% (36·3–51·6) without adjuvant temozolomide. Grade 3–4 adverse events were seen in 8–12% of 549 patients assigned temozolomide, and were mainly haematological and reversible.
Adjuvant temozolomide chemotherapy was associated with a significant survival benefit in patients with newly diagnosed non-co-deleted anaplastic glioma. Further analysis of the role of concurrent temozolomide treatment and molecular factors is needed.
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