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Childhood Brain Tumors: A Review of Strategies to Translate CNS Drug Delivery to Clinical Trials

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Gareth Veal



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 by the authors.Brain and spinal tumors affect 1 in 1000 people by 25 years of age, and have diverse histological, biological, anatomical and dissemination characteristics. A mortality of 30–40% means the majority are cured, although two-thirds have life-long disability, linked to accumulated brain injury that is acquired prior to diagnosis, and after surgery or chemo-radiotherapy. Only four drugs have been licensed globally for brain tumors in 40 years and only one for children. Most new cancer drugs in clinical trials do not cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB). Techniques to enhance brain tumor drug delivery are explored in this review, and cover those that augment penetration of the BBB, and those that bypass the BBB. Developing appropriate delivery techniques could improve patient outcomes by ensuring efficacious drug exposure to tumors (including those that are drug-resistant), reducing systemic toxicities and targeting leptomeningeal metastases. Together, this drug delivery strategy seeks to enhance the efficacy of new drugs and enable re-evaluation of existing drugs that might have previously failed because of inadequate delivery. A literature review of repurposed drugs is reported, and a range of preclinical brain tumor models available for translational development are explored.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rahman R, Janowski M, Killick-Cole CL, Singleton WGB, Campbell E, Walczak P, Khatua S, Faltings L, Symons M, Schneider JR, Kwan K, Boockvar JA, Gill SS, Oliveira JM, Beccaria K, Carpentier A, Canney M, Pearl M, Veal GJ, Meijer L, Walker DA

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cancers

Year: 2023

Volume: 15

Issue: 3

Print publication date: 01/02/2023

Online publication date: 30/01/2023

Acceptance date: 26/01/2023

ISSN (electronic): 2072-6694

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/cancers15030857