Projects per year
Glioblastoma in adults, and medulloblastoma and pineoblastoma that mainly affect children, are aggressive brain tumors. The survival for patients with glioblastoma remains dismal. While the cure rate for medulloblastoma exceeds 70%, this figure has stagnated over the past few decades and survivors still contend with significant long-term debilitating side effects. The prognosis for pineoblastoma is age-dependent, with little chance of a cure for children younger than three years. More effective molecularly targeted strategies are urgently required to treat these cancers. Hyper-activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling is characteristic of several different classes of human cancers, including a subset of glioblastoma and medulloblastoma. This has provided the impetus for the development of a suite of EGFR pathway blockers, including second generation irreversible inhibitors, such as dacomitinib. We have developed a comprehensive drug evaluation pipeline, including in vitro interaction analyses and orthotopic xenograft mouse models, to address the efficacy of drugs for brain tumor treatment, enabling the exclusion of potentially ineffective treatments and prioritization of truly beneficial novel treatments for clinical trial. We used this system to examine the effects of dacomitinib as a single agent, or in combination with conventional chemotherapeutics, on the growth of human adult and pediatric brain tumor cell lines. Dacomitinib inhibited EGFR or EGFRvIII activity in vitro in all three tumor types tested, and as a single agent induced a modest increase in survival time for mice bearing glioblastoma, which accurately predicted human clinical trial data. For pediatric medulloblastoma, dacomitinib blocked EGFR/HER signalling in orthotopic xenografts and extended median survival as a single agent, however was antagonistic when used in combination with standard frontline medulloblastoma chemotherapies. The findings caution against the use of dacomitinib for pediatric brain tumor clinical trials.