DNA chip designed antisense oligodeoxynucleotides targeting EGFR MRNA for brain tumour therapy
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a malignant brain tumour for which there is currently no effective treatment regime. It is thought to develop due to the overexpression of a number of genes, including the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is found in over 40% of GBM. Novel forms of treatment such as antisense therapy may allow for the specific inhibition of aberrant genes and thus they are optimistic therapies for future treatment of GBM. Oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) are small pieces of DNA that are often modified to increase their stability to nucleases and can be targeted to the aberrant gene in order to inhibit it and thus prevent its transcription into protein. By specifically binding to mRNA in an antisense manner, they can bring about its degradation by a variety of mechanisms including the activation of RNase H and thus have great potential as therapeutic agents. One of the main drawbacks to the utilisation of this therapy so far is the lack of techniques that can successfully predict accessible regions on the target mRNA that the ODNs can bind to. DNA chip technology has been utilised here to predict target sequences on the EGFR mRNA and these ODNs (AS 1 and AS2) have been tested in vitro for their stability, uptake into cells and their efficacy on cellular growth, EGFR protein and mRNA. Studies showed that phosphorothioate and 2'O-methyl ODNs were significantly more stable than phosphodiester ODNs both in serum and serum-free conditions and that the mechanism of uptake into A431 cells was temperature dependent and more efficient with the use of optimised lipofectin. Efficacy results show that AS 1 and AS2 phosphorothioate antisense ODNs were capable of inhibiting cell proliferation by 69% ±4% and 65% ±4.5% respectively at 500nM in conjunction with a non-toxic dose of lipofectinTM used to enhance cellular delivery. Furthermore, control ODN sequences, 2' O-methyl derivatives and a third ODN sequence, that was found not to be capable of binding efficiently to the EGFR mRNA by DNA chip technology, showed no significant effect on cell proliferation. AS 1 almost completely inhibited EGFR protein levels within 48 hours with two doses of 500nM AS 1 with no effect on other EGFR family member proteins or by control sequences. RNA analysis showed a decrease in mRNA levels of 32.4% ±0.8% but techniques require further optimisation to confirm this. As there are variations found between human glioblastoma in situ and those developed as xenografts, analysis of effect of AS 1 and AS2 was performed on primary tumour cell lines derived from glioma patients. ODN treatment showed a specific knockdown of cell growth compared to any of the controls used. Furthermore, combination therapies were tested on A431 cell growth to determine the advantage of combining different antisense approaches and that of conventional drugs. Results varied between the combination treatments but indicated that with optimisation of treatment regimes and delivery techniques that combination therapies utilising antisense therapies would be plausible.