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Ian F. Pollack, Stephanie Kawecki and John S. Lazo

✓ Seven-hydroxystaurosporine (UCN-01) is a derivative of the nonselective protein kinase inhibitor staurosporine that exhibits significant selectivity for protein kinase C (PKC) in comparison to a variety of other intracellular kinases and appears to be well tolerated in vivo at concentrations sufficient to achieve effective inhibition of PKC. Because recent studies have indicated that the proliferation of malignant gliomas may result from activation of PKC-mediated pathways and, conversely, may be inhibited by blocking PKC, the authors examined the efficacy of this agent as an inhibitor of proliferation in three established and three low-passage malignant glioma cell lines in vitro. A striking inhibition of proliferation was produced by UCN-01 in each of the cell lines, with a median effective concentration of 20 to 100 nM, which correlated with the median in vitro PKC inhibitory concentration of 20 to 60 nM for this agent in the U-87 and SG-388 glioma cell lines. Inhibition-recovery studies of clonogenic activity indicated that UCN-01 had both cytostatic and cytotoxic effects on the treated cells. Proliferation resumed after short-term (6- and 24-hour) exposures to this agent; in contrast, with longer exposures, recovery of proliferative activity was severely compromised. In addition, UCN-01 enhanced the inhibition of glioma cell proliferation achieved with conventional chemotherapeutic agents, exhibiting synergistic effects with cisplatin and additive effects with 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea. In vivo studies in which UCN-01 was administered by continuous intraperitoneal infusion in subcutaneous and intracranial intraparenchymal nude rat models demonstrated significant activity against U-87 glioma xenografts at dose levels that were well tolerated. It is concluded that UCN-01 is an effective agent for the inhibition of glioma proliferation in vitro and in vivo and has potential for clinical applicability in the treatment of human gliomas.

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Nikhil G. Thaker, Fang Zhang, Peter R. McDonald, Tong Ying Shun, John S. Lazo and Ian F. Pollack

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a high-grade brain malignancy arising from astrocytes. Despite aggressive surgical approaches, optimized radiation therapy regimens, and the application of cytotoxic chemotherapies, the median survival of patients with GBM from time of diagnosis remains less than 15 months, having changed little in decades. Approaches that target genes and biological pathways responsible for tumorigenesis or potentiate the activity of current therapeutic modalities could improve treatment efficacy. In this regard, several genomic and proteomic strategies promise to impact significantly on the drug discovery process. High-throughput genome-wide screening with short interfering RNA (siRNA) is one strategy for systematically exploring possible therapeutically relevant targets in GBM. Statistical methods and protein-protein interaction network databases can also be applied to the screening data to explore the genes and pathways that underlie the pathological basis and development of GBM. In this study, we highlight several genome-wide siRNA screens and implement these experimental concepts in the T98G GBM cell line to uncover the genes and pathways that regulate GBM cell death and survival. These studies will ultimately influence the development of a new avenue of neurosurgical therapy by placing the drug discovery process in the context of the entire biological system.