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J Cell Mol Med. 2011 Dec;15(12):2735-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2011.01296.x.

Grand rounds at the National Institutes of Health: HDAC inhibitors as radiation modifiers, from bench to clinic.

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  • 1Radiation Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive malignant brain tumour. Patients afflicted with this disease unfortunately have a very poor prognosis, and fewer than 5% of patients survive for 5 years from the time of diagnosis. Therefore, improved therapies to treat this disease are sorely needed. One such class of drugs that have generated great enthusiasm for the treatment of numerous malignancies, including GBM, is histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors. Pre-clinical data have demonstrated the efficacy of various HDAC inhibitors as anticancer agents, with the greatest effects shown when HDAC inhibitors are used in combination with other therapies. As a result of encouraging pre-clinical data, numerous HDAC inhibitors are under investigation in clinical trials, either as monotherapies or in conjunction with other treatments such as chemotherapy, biologic therapy or radiation therapy. In fact, two actively studied HDAC inhibitors, vorinostat and depsipeptide, were recently approved for the treatment of refractory cutaneous T cell lymphoma. In this review, we first present a patient with GBM, and then discuss the pathogenesis, epidemiology and current treatment options of GBM. Finally, we examine the translation of pre-clinical studies that have demonstrated HDAC inhibitors as potent radiosensitizers in in vitro and in vivo models, to a phase II clinical trial combining the HDAC inhibitor, valproic acid, along with temozolomide and radiation therapy for the treatment of GBM.

Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine © 2011 Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine/Blackwell Publishing Ltd No claim to US government works.

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