Novel ion channel targets and drug delivery tools for controlling glioblastoma cell invasiveness

Alanah Varricchio, Sunita A. Ramesh, Andrea J. Yool

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Comprising more than half of all brain tumors, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a leading cause of brain cancer-related deaths worldwide. A major clinical challenge is presented by the capacity of glioma cells to rapidly infiltrate healthy brain parenchyma, allowing the cancer to escape control by localized surgical resections and radiotherapies, and promoting recurrence in other brain regions. We propose that therapies which target cellular motility pathways could be used to slow tumor dispersal, providing a longer time window for administration of frontline treatments needed to directly eradicate the primary tumors. An array of signal transduction pathways are known to be involved in controlling cellular motility. Aquaporins (AQPs) and voltage-gated ion channels are prime candidates as pharmacological targets to restrain cell migration in glioblastoma. Published work has demonstrated AQPs 1, 4 and 9, as well as voltage-gated potassium, sodium and calcium channels, chloride channels, and acid-sensing ion channels are expressed in GBM and can influence processes of cell volume change, extracellular matrix degradation, cytoskeletal reorganization, la-mellipodial and filopodial extension, and turnover of cell-cell adhesions and focal assembly sites. The current gap in knowledge is the identification of optimal combinations of targets, inhibitory agents, and drug delivery systems that will allow effective intervention with minimal side effects in the complex environment of the brain, without disrupting finely tuned activities of neuro-glial networks. Based on published literature, we propose that co-treatments using AQP inhibitors in addition to other therapies could increase effectiveness, overcoming some limitations inherent in current strategies that are focused on single mechanisms. An emerging interest in nanobodies as drug delivery systems could be instrumental for achieving the selective delivery of combinations of agents aimed at multiple key targets, which could enhance success in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11909
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Aquaporin
  • Brain cancer
  • CaV channel
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glioma
  • KV channel
  • Membrane intrinsic protein
  • Migration
  • Motility
  • NaV channel


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