Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs) frequently harbor the histone H3 K27M mutation. Gliomas with this mutation commonly overexpress dopamine receptor (DR) D2 and suppress DRD5, leading to enhanced sensitivity to DRD2 antagonism. This study reports the first clinical experience with the DRD2/3 antagonist ONC201 as a potential targeted therapy for H3 K27M–mutant DIPG. One pediatric patient (a 10-year-old girl) with H3 K27M–mutant DIPG was enrolled in an investigator-initiated, IRB-approved compassionate-use study and began single-agent ONC201 treatment 1 month after completing radiotherapy. The study endpoints were clinical and radiographic response (primary) and toxicities (secondary).
The patient presented with House-Brackmann grade IV facial palsy and unilateral hearing loss. MRI demonstrated a 2.3 × 2.1 × 2.8–cm pontomedullary tumor. Stereotactic biopsy confirmed H3 K27M–mutated DIPG. The tumor was treated with radiotherapy, but 1 month after completion of that treatment, the tumor and neurological symptoms showed only minimal change, and ONC201 treatment was initiated as described above. The tumor volume sequentially decreased by 26%, 40%, and 44% over the next 6 months, and remained stable at 18 months. Ipsilateral hearing normalized and the facial palsy improved to House-Brackmann grade I by 4 months. After 1 year of ONC201 treatment, 2 new lesions were identified outside of the prior high-dose radiotherapy volume. The patient was treated with dexamethasone, bevacizumab, and additional focal radiotherapy to these new tumors. These tumors remained stable in size over the subsequent 6 months on MRI. To date, no adverse events have been observed or reported due to ONC201. The patient remains clinically improved as of the latest follow-up visit, 19 months after starting ONC201 and 22 months from diagnosis. This case supports further investigation of this novel agent targeting H3 K27M–mutated DIPG.