Drug Insight: temozolomide as a treatment for malignant glioma--impact of a recent trial

Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2005 Dec;1(2):88-95. doi: 10.1038/ncpneuro0045.


Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common primary brain tumor in adults. Until recently, the standard of care consisted of maximal surgical resection followed by external beam radiotherapy. The role of adjuvant chemotherapy for newly diagnosed glioblastoma has been controversial; most of the numerous randomized phase III trials conducted over the past 40 years have failed to show a statistically significant and clinically meaningful survival advantage for patients randomized to the chemotherapy arm. Consequently, the choices of chemotherapeutics for patients with glioblastoma have been limited, and cytotoxic treatment regimens have usually included a nitrosourea. Temozolomide, a relatively new orally administered methylating agent, has demonstrable activity in glioma. A recent trial conducted under the auspices of the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) has defined a role for temozolomide in the initial management of glioblastoma. A companion correlative tumor-biology study has identified epigenetic silencing of the promoter of the gene that encodes MGMT (O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase) in tumor specimens as a strong and independent prognostic factor for survival among patients with a newly diagnosed glioblastoma, as well as a predictor of survival benefit from chemoradiotherapy with temozolomide. This review briefly summarizes the development of temozolomide as a therapy for patients with malignant brain tumors, emphasizing recent trials that have established a new standard of care for patients with glioblastoma and speculating on how these advances might influence future therapeutic investigations for malignant primary brain tumors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / adverse effects
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • DNA Modification Methylases / genetics
  • Dacarbazine / administration & dosage
  • Dacarbazine / adverse effects
  • Dacarbazine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Temozolomide


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Dacarbazine
  • DNA Modification Methylases
  • Temozolomide