Overcoming translational barriers in H3K27-altered diffuse midline glioma: Increasing the drug-tumor residence time

Erica A. Power, Julian S. Rechberger, Liang Zhang, Ju Hee Oh, Jacob B. Anderson, Cody L. Nesvick, Jizhi Ge, Edward H. Hinchcliffe, William F. Elmquist, David J. Daniels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: H3K27-altered diffuse midline glioma (DMG) is the deadliest pediatric brain tumor; despite intensive research efforts, every clinical trial to date has failed. Is this because we are choosing the wrong drugs? Or are drug delivery and other pharmacokinetic variables at play? We hypothesize that the answer is likely a combination, where optimization may result in a much needed novel therapeutic approach. Methods: We used in vitro drug screening, patient samples, and shRNA knockdown models to identify an upregulated target in DMG. A single small molecule protein kinase inhibitor with translational potential was selected for systemic and direct, loco-regional delivery to patient-derived xenografts (PDX) and genetically engineered mouse models (GEMM). Pharmacokinetic studies were conducted in non-tumor bearing rats. Results: Aurora kinase (AK) inhibitors demonstrated strong antitumor effects in DMG drug screens. Additional in vitro studies corroborated the importance of AK to DMG survival. Systemic delivery of alisertib showed promise in subcutaneous PDX but not intracranial GEMM and PDX models. Repeated loco-regional drug administration into the tumor through convection-enhanced delivery (CED) was equally inefficacious, and pharmacokinetic studies revealed rapid clearance of alisertib from the brain. In an effort to increase the drug to tumor residence time, continuous CED over 7 days improved drug retention in the rodent brainstem and significantly extended survival in both orthotopic PDXs and GEMMs. Conclusions: These studies provide evidence for increasing drug-tumor residence time of promising targeted therapies via extended CED as a valuable treatment strategy for DMG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNeuro-Oncology Advances
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
National Institutes of Health (R01 NS117432 to DJD and EHH, U54 CA210180 to DJD); National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (CTSA UL1 TR002377 to EAP).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press, the Society for Neuro-Oncology and the European Association of Neuro-Oncology.


  • Diffuse midline glioma
  • alisertib
  • aurora kinase
  • convection-enhanced delivery
  • drug-tumor residence time

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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