Purpose: Glioblastoma is a highly malignant, invariably fatal brain tumor for which effective pharmacotherapy remains an unmet medical need.
Experimental design: Screening of a compound library of 160 synthetic and natural toxic substances identified the antihelmintic niclosamide as a previously unrecognized candidate for clinical development. Considering the cellular and interindividual heterogeneity of glioblastoma, a portfolio of short-term expanded primary human glioblastoma cells (pGBM; n = 21), common glioma lines (n = 5), and noncancer human control cells (n = 3) was applied as a discovery platform and for preclinical validation. Pharmacodynamic analysis, study of cell-cycle progression, apoptosis, cell migration, proliferation, and on the frequency of multipotent/self-renewing pGBM cells were conducted in vitro, and orthotopic xenotransplantation was used to confirm anticancer effects in vivo.
Results: Niclosamide led to cytostatic, cytotoxic, and antimigratory effects, strongly reduced the frequencies of multipotent/self-renewing cells in vitro, and after exposure significantly diminished the pGBMs' malignant potential in vivo. Mechanism of action analysis revealed that niclosamide simultaneously inhibited intracellular WNT/CTNNB1-, NOTCH-, mTOR-, and NF-κB signaling cascades. Furthermore, combinatorial drug testing established that a heterozygous deletion of the NFKBIA locus in glioblastoma samples could serve as a genomic biomarker for predicting a synergistic activity of niclosamide with temozolomide, the current standard in glioblastoma therapy.
Conclusions: Together, our data advocate the use of pGBMs for exploration of compound libraries to reveal unexpected leads, for example, niclosamide that might be suited for further development toward personalized clinical application.