Novel druggable targets have been discovered in neuroblastoma (NB), paving the way for more effective treatments. However, children with high-risk NB still show high mortality rates prompting for a search of novel therapeutic options. Here, we aimed at repurposing FDA-approved drugs for NB treatment by performing a high-content screening of a 349 anticancer compounds library. In the primary screening, we employed three NB cell lines, grown as three-dimensional (3D) multicellular spheroids, which were treated with 10 μmol/L of the library compounds for 72 hours. The viability of 3D spheroids was evaluated using a high-content imaging approach, resulting in a primary hit list of 193 compounds. We selected 60 FDA-approved molecules and prioritized drugs with multi-target activity, discarding those already in use for NB treatment or enrolled in NB clinical trials. Hence, 20 drugs were further tested for their efficacy in inhibiting NB cell viability, both in two-dimensional and 3D models. Dose-response curves were then supplemented with the data on side effects, therapeutic index, and molecular targets, suggesting two multiple tyrosine kinase inhibitors, ponatinib and axitinib, as promising candidates for repositioning in NB. Indeed, both drugs showed induction of cell-cycle block and apoptosis, as well as inhibition of colony formation. However, only ponatinib consistently affected migration and inhibited invasion of NB cells. Finally, ponatinib also proved effective inhibition of tumor growth in orthotopic NB mice, providing the rationale for its repurposing in NB therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research