Glioblastomas: new discoveries at the CNRS in Marseille - 05 oct. 2020

Evacuating Eva's support for life, Dr Eddy Pasquier's team has just published a new study on the role of mebendazole and the antihelminthic MAPK14 (p38alpha) in the fight against glioblastoma, a brain tumor that is difficult to treat ...
Eddy Pasquier's team decided to explore the mechanism of action of this drug, which is currently reused for the treatment of brain tumors, by using an algorithm to predict new molecular targets.

The algorithm works by first looking for compounds with similar structures and chemical characteristics (among 607,659 molecules), then querying ChEMBL (or ChEMBLdb, a manually organized chemical database of bioactive molecules with drug-like properties. ) to list all known molecular targets. This generated a list of 21 putative molecular targets for mebendazole, four of which had previously been shown to be modulated by drugs of the same pharmacological class. Of these targets, 12 were significantly upregulated in glioblastoma compared to normal brain tissue, including 4 major kinases: VEGFR2 / KDR, MAPK1 / ERK2, ABL1 and MAPK14 / p38alpha.

As the kinase activity of KDR had already been shown to be inhibited by mebendazole, Dr. Eddy Pasquier's team focused their experiments on the 3 other kinases (MAPK1, ABL1 and MAPK14).

The analyzes revealed that mebendazole could inhibit all 3 kinases, with a particularly high potency against MAPK14. The team then used a panel of biophysical and biochemical tests to characterize the interaction of mebendazole with MAPK14. Thermal displacement assay (TSA), isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), and nanoscale differential scanning fluorimetry (nanoDSF) all confirmed that mebendazole can interact directly with MAPK14.

Molecular modeling predicted how mebendazole interacts with the catalytic site of MAPK14 to inhibit its kinase activity and the nanoBRET assay was used for orthogonal validation in living glioblastoma cells. Finally, RNA interference was used to stop the expression of MAPK14 in glioblastoma cells and revealed that this kinase is involved in the growth of tumor spheroids and the response to treatment with mebendazole.

This study suggests that targeting MAPK14 with mebendazole or other pharmacological inhibitors represents a promising strategy to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy in cancer, including the efficacy of temozolomide against glioblastoma .

This project was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Eva pour la vie association and the A * MIDEX Foundation.

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