Glioblastoma (GBM) is amongst the most aggressive brain tumors with a dismal prognosis. Despite significant advances in the current multimodality therapy including surgery, postoperative radiotherapy (RT) and temozolomide (TMZ)-based concomitant and adjuvant chemotherapy (CT), tumor recurrence is nearly universal with poor patient outcomes. These limitations are in part due to poor drug penetration through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and resistance to CT and RT by a small population of cancer cells recognized as tumor-initiating cells or cancer stem cells (CSCs). Though CT and RT kill the bulk of the tumor cells, they fail to affect CSCs, resulting in their enrichment and their development into more refractory tumors. Therefore, identifying the mechanisms of resistance and developing therapies that specifically target CSCs can improve response, prevent the development of refractory tumors and increase overall survival of GBM patients. Small molecule inhibitors that can breach the BBB and selectively target CSCs are emerging. In this review, we have summarized the recent advancements in understanding the GBM CSC-specific signaling pathways, the CSC-tumor microenvironment niche that contributes to CT and RT resistance and the use of novel combination therapies of small molecule inhibitors that may be used in conjunction with TMZ-based chemoradiation for effective management of GBM.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research