Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor. Amplification of c-MYC is a hallmark of a subset of poor-prognosis medulloblastoma. MYC upregulates glutamine metabolism across many types of cancer. We modified the naturally occurring glutamine antagonist 6-diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine (DON) by adding 2 promoeities to increase its lipophilicity and brain penetration creating the prodrug isopropyl 6-diazo-5-oxo-2-(((phenyl (pivaloyloxy) methoxy) – carbonyl) amino) hexanoate, termed JHU395. This prodrug was shown to have a 10-fold improved CSF-to-plasma ratio and brain-to-plasma ratio relative to DON. We hypothesized that JHU395 would have superior cell penetration compared with DON and would effectively and more potently kill MYC-expressing medulloblastoma. JHU395 treatment caused decreased growth and increased apoptosis in multiple human high-MYC medulloblastoma cell lines at lower concentrations than DON. Parenteral administration of JHU395 in Nu/Nu mice led to the accumulation of micromolar concentrations of DON in brain. Treatment of mice bearing orthotopic xenografts of human MYC-amplified medulloblastoma with JHU395 increased median survival from 26 to 45 days compared with vehicle control mice (p < 0.001 by log-rank test). These data provide preclinical justification for the ongoing development and testing of brain-targeted DON prodrugs for use in medulloblastoma.
© 2021 American Association of Neuropathologists, Inc. All rights reserved.