Introduction: The survival of patients with glioblastoma (GBM), which is the most common primary brain malignancy, remains poor with current treatment modalities. However, an enhanced understanding of gliomagenesis is supporting the development of targeted molecular therapies with the potential for improving clinical outcomes.
Areas covered: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) initiate key signaling pathways in GBM; however, trials with anti-EGFR agents have failed to show improved outcomes. Bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody targeting VEGF, remains the only FDA-approved molecular drug in GBM; yet its use has only improved progression-free survival without any improvement in overall survival. We review the evidence supporting the continued evaluation of targeted molecular therapies in recurrent GBM. In addition, newer potential therapies targeting other signaling pathways, heat shock proteins and proteosomes, as well as the concept of targeting glioma stem cells are discussed.
Expert opinion: The complex genetic origin of GBM makes it challenging to identify molecular subsets that may benefit from specific targeted therapies. Pathway inhibition, via multisite kinase inhibitors or a carefully selected combination of molecular drugs with or without cytotoxic agents, is currently undergoing evaluation in clinical trials and may improve outcomes in these patients.