The Combination of Novel Targeted Molecular Agents and Radiation in the Treatment of Pediatric Gliomas

  • Dasgupta T
  • Haas-Kogan D
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Abstract

Brain tumors are the most common solid pediatric malignancy. For high-grade, recurrent, or refractory pediatric brain tumors, radiation therapy (XRT) is an integral treatment modality. In the era of personalized cancer therapy, molecularly targeted agents have been designed to inhibit pathways critical to tumorigenesis. Our evolving knowledge of genetic aberrations in pediatric gliomas is being exploited with the use of specific targeted inhibitors. These agents are additionally being combined with XRT to increase the efficacy and duration of local control. In this review, we discuss novel agents targeting three different pathways in gliomas, and their potential combination with XRT. BRAF is a serine/threonine kinase in the RAS/RAF/MAPK kinase pathway, which is integral to cellular division, survival, and metabolism. Two-thirds of pilocytic astrocytomas, a low-grade pediatric glioma, contain a translocation within the BRAF gene called KIAA1549:BRAF that causes an overactivation of the MEK/MAPK signaling cascade. In vitro and in vivo data support the use of MEK or mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors in low-grade gliomas expressing this translocation. Additionally, 15-20% of high-grade pediatric gliomas express BRAF V600E, an activating mutation of the BRAF gene. Pre-clinical in vivo and in vitro data in BRAF V600E gliomas demonstrate dramatic cooperation between XRT and small molecule inhibitors of BRAF V600E. Another major signaling cascade that plays a role in pediatric glioma pathogenesis is the PI3-kinase (PI3K)/mTOR pathway, known to be upregulated in the majority of high- and low-grade pediatric gliomas. Dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors are in clinical trials for adult high-grade gliomas and are poised to enter studies of pediatric tumors. Finally, many brain tumors express potent stimulators of angiogenesis that render them refractory to treatment. An analog of thalidomide, CC-5103 increases the secretion of critical cytokines of the tumor microenvironment, including IL-2, IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-10, and is currently being evaluated in clinical trials for the treatment of recurrent or refractory pediatric central nervous system tumors. In summary, several targeted inhibitors with radiation are currently under investigation in both translational bench research and early clinical trials. This review article summarizes the molecular rationale for, and the pre-clinical data supporting the combinations of these targeted agents with other anti-cancer agents and XRT in pediatric gliomas. In many cases, parallels are drawn to molecular mechanisms and targeted inhibitors of adult gliomas. We additionally discuss the potential mechanisms underlying the efficacy of these agents.

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Dasgupta, T., & Haas-Kogan, D. A. (2013). The Combination of Novel Targeted Molecular Agents and Radiation in the Treatment of Pediatric Gliomas. Frontiers in Oncology, 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2013.00110

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