Diffuse midline glioma (DMG), including tumors diagnosed in the brainstem (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma – DIPG), are uniformly fatal brain tumors that lack effective treatment. Analysis of CRISPR-Cas9 loss-of-function gene deletion screens identified PIK3CA and MTOR as targetable molecular dependencies across DIPG patient models, highlighting the therapeutic potential of the blood-brain barrier penetrant PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitor, paxalisib. At the human equivalent maximum tolerated dose, mice treated with paxalisib experienced systemic glucose feedback and increased insulin levels commensurate with patients using PI3K inhibitors. To exploit genetic dependence and overcome resistance whilst maintaining compliance and therapeutic benefit, we combined paxalisib with the anti-hyperglycemic drug, metformin. Metformin restored glucose homeostasis and decreased phosphorylation of the insulin receptor in vivo, a common mechanism of PI3K-inhibitor resistance, extending survival of orthotopic models. DIPG models treated with paxalisib increased calcium-activated PKC signaling. The brain penetrant PKC inhibitor enzastaurin in combination with paxalisib, synergistically extended the survival of multiple orthotopic patient-derived and immunocompetent syngeneic allograft models; benefits potentiated in combination with metformin and standard-of-care radiotherapy. Therapeutic adaptation was assessed using spatial transcriptomics and ATAC-sequencing, identifying changes in myelination and tumor immune microenvironment crosstalk. Together, we have identified a clinically relevant DIPG therapeutic combinatorial approach.
Ryan J. Duchatel, Evangeline R. Jackson, Sarah G. Parackal, Dylan Kiltschewskij, Izac J. Findlay, Abdul Mannan, Dilana E. Staudt, Bryce C. Thomas, Zacary P. Germon, Sandra Laternser, Padraic S. Kearney, M. Fairuz B. Jamaluddin, Alicia M. Douglas, Tyrone S. Beitaki, Holly P. McEwen, Mika L. Persson, Emily A. Hocke, Vaibhav Jain, Michael Aksu, Elizabeth E. Manning, Heather C. Murray, Nicole M. Verrills, Claire Xin Sun, Paul Daniel, Ricardo E. Vilain, David A. Skerrett-Byrne, Brett Nixon, Susan Hua, Charles E. de Bock, Yolanda Colino-Sanguino, Fatima Valdes-Mora, Maria Tsoli, David S. Ziegler, Murray J. Cairns, Eric H. Raabe, Nicholas A. Vitanza, Esther Hulleman, Timothy N. Phoenix, Carl Koschmann, Frank Alvaro, Christopher V. Dayas, Christopher L. Tinkle, Helen Wheeler, James R. Whittle, David D. Eisenstat, Ron Firestein, Sabine Mueller, Santosh Valvi, Jordan R. Hansford, David M. Ashley, Simon G. Gregory, Lindsay B. Kilburn, Javad Nazarian, Jason E. Cain, Matthew D. Dun