Glioblastoma and the search for non-hypothesis driven combination therapeutics in academia
Johanssen T., McVeigh L., Erridge S., Higgins G., Straehla J., Frame M., Aittokallio T., Carragher NO., Ebner D.
Glioblastoma (GBM) remains a cancer of high unmet clinical need. Current standard of care for GBM, consisting of maximal surgical resection, followed by ionisation radiation (IR) plus concomitant and adjuvant temozolomide (TMZ), provides less than 15-month survival benefit. Efforts by conventional drug discovery to improve overall survival have failed to overcome challenges presented by inherent tumor heterogeneity, therapeutic resistance attributed to GBM stem cells, and tumor niches supporting self-renewal. In this review we describe the steps academic researchers are taking to address these limitations in high throughput screening programs to identify novel GBM combinatorial targets. We detail how they are implementing more physiologically relevant phenotypic assays which better recapitulate key areas of disease biology coupled with more focussed libraries of small compounds, such as drug repurposing, target discovery, pharmacologically active and novel, more comprehensive anti-cancer target-annotated compound libraries. Herein, we discuss the rationale for current GBM combination trials and the need for more systematic and transparent strategies for identification, validation and prioritisation of combinations that lead to clinical trials. Finally, we make specific recommendations to the preclinical, small compound screening paradigm that could increase the likelihood of identifying tractable, combinatorial, small molecule inhibitors and better drug targets specific to GBM.