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Sci Transl Med. 2018 Oct 24;10(464). pii: eaat0150. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aat0150.

Systems biology-based drug repositioning identifies digoxin as a potential therapy for groups 3 and 4 medulloblastoma.

Author information

1
Department of Systems Medicine and Bioengineering, Houston Methodist Research Institute and Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
2
Preclinical Neuro-Oncology Research Program, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
3
Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
4
Department of Pathology, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
5
Preclinical Neuro-Oncology Research Program, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA. stwong@houstonmethodist.org clau@connecticutchildrens.org xiaonan@bcm.edu.
6
Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA. stwong@houstonmethodist.org clau@connecticutchildrens.org xiaonan@bcm.edu.
7
Department of Systems Medicine and Bioengineering, Houston Methodist Research Institute and Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA. stwong@houstonmethodist.org clau@connecticutchildrens.org xiaonan@bcm.edu.

Abstract

Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant brain tumor of childhood. Although outcomes have improved in recent decades, new treatments are still needed to improve survival and reduce treatment-related complications. The MB subtypes groups 3 and 4 represent a particular challenge due to their intragroup heterogeneity, which limits the options for "rational" targeted therapies. Here, we report a systems biology approach to drug repositioning that integrates a nonparametric, bootstrapping-based simulated annealing algorithm and a 3D drug functional network to characterize dysregulated driver signaling networks, thereby identifying potential drug candidates. From more than 1300 drug candidates studied, we identified five members of the cardiac glycoside family as potentially inhibiting the growth of groups 3 and 4 MB and subsequently confirmed this in vitro. Systemic in vivo treatment of orthotopic patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models of groups 3 and 4 MB with digoxin, a member of the cardiac glycoside family approved for the treatment of heart failure, prolonged animal survival at plasma concentrations known to be tolerated in humans. These results demonstrate the power of a systematic drug repositioning method in identifying a potential treatment for MB. Our strategy could potentially be used to accelerate the repositioning of treatments for other human cancers that lack clearly defined rational targets.

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