Medulloblastoma is the most common pediatric malignant brain tumor. Polyamines, critical intracellular polycations governing key cell processes such as DNA replication, translation, and cell proliferation, are frequently upregulated in cancer. We previously showed that the polyamine pathway is critical to the growth and survival of pediatric diffuse midline gliomas and MYC amplified neuroblastoma. Given the activity of polyamine inhibition in DMG, and given the critical role of MYC in medulloblastoma, we sought to investigate the potential of polyamine pathway inhibition as a therapeutic approach for medulloblastoma. We compared the expression of regulators of the polyamine pathway in a cohort of pediatric medulloblastoma tumors from patients enrolled in the Zero Childhood Cancer (ZERO) Personalized Medicine Program and found significant over-expression compared with normal fetal brain samples. Analysis of Cavalli dataset of 763 medulloblastoma samples, found that high expression of polyamine biosynthetic genes predicted poor overall survival, and low expression of catabolic flux genes significantly correlated with better outcomes. We next treated medulloblastoma cells treated with a polyamine synthesis inhibitor, DFMO, and found that led to a compensatory increase in polyamine transporter protein expression. Conversely, treatment with the polyamine transport inhibitor AMXT 1501 led to compensatory increase in ODC1, the key polyamine synthetic enzyme. Dual targeting of the polyamine pathway, (DFMO and AMXT 1501) showed a potent and synergistic inhibition of cell proliferation and reduced the clonogenic potential of medulloblastoma cells in soft agar clonogenic assays. Flow cytometric analysis of Annexin V-stained cells showed that treatment with DFMO and AMXT 1501 in combination led to induction of apoptosis. Furthermore, we found that dual polyamine inhibition potently sensitized medulloblastoma cells, particularly Group 3, to the chemotherapeutic agent SN-38, leading to complete eradication of medulloblastoma cells in both cytotoxicity assays and clonogenic assays at nanomolar chemotherapeutic concentrations. We are currently validating this treatment strategy in aggressive orthotopic medulloblastoma models. Our findings suggest that inhibiting both polyamine synthesis and uptake holds promise for sensitizing highly aggressive pediatric medulloblastoma tumors to chemotherapy. Currently, AMXT 1501 combined with DFMO is undergoing evaluation in a Phase I clinical trial for adults (NCT05500508). Building on these promising results, we are developing a Phase I/II clinical trial for children with aggressive brain tumors through the international CONNECT consortium.

Citation Format: Aaminah Khan, Anjana Gopalakrishnan, Jie Liu, Mark R. Burns, Maria Tsoli, David S. Ziegler. Inhibition of the polyamine pathway: a novel therapeutic approach to treat aggressive pediatric medulloblastoma [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference on Brain Cancer; 2023 Oct 19-22; Minneapolis, Minnesota. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2024;84(5 Suppl_1):Abstract nr B047.