Research Papers:

EB1-dependent long survival of glioblastoma-grafted mice with the oral tubulin-binder BAL101553 is associated with inhibition of tumor angiogenesis

Raphaël Bergès, Aurélie Tchoghandjian, Arnauld Sergé, Stéphane Honoré, Dominique Figarella-Branger, Felix Bachmann, Heidi A. Lane and Diane Braguer

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Raphaël Bergès1, Aurélie Tchoghandjian1, Arnauld Sergé2, Stéphane Honoré1, Dominique Figarella-Branger1,3, Felix Bachmann4, Heidi A. Lane4 and Diane Braguer1,3

1 Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, INP, Inst Neurophysiopathol, Marseille, France

2 Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, INSERM, Institut Paoli-Calmettes, CRCM, Marseille, France

3 APHM, CHU Timone, Marseille 13385, France

4 Basilea Pharmaceutica International Ltd., Basel, Switzerland

Correspondence to:

Diane Braguer,email: diane.braguer@univ-amu.fr
Heidi A. Lane,email: heidi.lane@basilea.com

Keywords: glioblastoma; cancer stem cells; microtubule-targeting agent; experimental cancer therapeutics

Received: July 04, 2019     Accepted: November 06, 2019     Published: February 25, 2020


Glioblastoma (GBM) are aggressive brain tumors with limited treatment options. Cancer stem-like cells (CSLCs) contribute to GBM invasiveness, representing promising targets. BAL101553, a prodrug of BAL27862, is a novel small molecule tubulin-binding agent, promoting tumor cell death through spindle assembly checkpoint activation, which is currently in Phase 1/2a in advanced solid tumor patients including GBM. This study aimed to evaluate long-term daily oral BAL101553 treatment of mice orthotopically grafted with GBM CSLCs (GBM6) according to EB1 expression-level, and to decipher its mechanism of action on GBM stem cells. Oral treatment with BAL101553 for 100 days provoked a large EB1 expression level-dependent survival benefit, together with a decrease in tumor growth and brain invasion. Formation of vascular structures by the fluorescent GBM6-GFP-sh0 cells, mimicking endothelial vascular networks, was observed in the brains of control grafted mice. Following BAL101553 treatment, vessels were no longer detectable, suggesting inhibition of the endothelial trans-differentiation of GBM stem cells. In vitro, BAL27862 treatment resulted in a switch to the endothelial-like phenotype of GBM6 towards an astrocytic phenotype. Moreover, the drug inhibited secretion of VEGF, thus preventing normal endothelial cell migration activated by CSLCs. The decrease in VEGF secretion was confirmed in a human GBM explant following drug treatment. Altogether, our data first confirm the potential of EB1 expression as a response-predictive biomarker of BAL101553 in GBM we previously published and add new insights in BAL101553 long-term action by counteracting CSLCs mediated tumor angiogenesis. Our results strongly support BAL101553 clinical studies in GBM patients.

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