Telomerase inhibitors for the treatment of brain tumors and the potential of intranasal delivery

Rintaro Hashizume*, Nalin Gupta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A fundamental limitation in the treatment of brain tumors is that < 1% of most therapeutic agents administered systemically are able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The development of new strategies that circumvent the BBB should increase the likelihood of tumor response to selected therapeutic agents. Intranasal delivery (IND) is a practical, noninvasive method of bypassing the BBB to deliver therapeutic agents to the brain. This technique has demonstrated promising results in the treatment of neurological disorders. Telomerase is a reverse transcriptase that is expressed in the vast majority of malignant gliomas, although not in the healthy brain. Telomerase inhibition can therefore be used as a therapeutic strategy for selectively targeting malignant gliomas. The first successful IND of a telomerase inhibitor as a therapy for brain tumors was GRN-163, an oligonucleotide N3'→5' thiophosphoramidate telomerase inhibitor, which was successfully administered into intracerebral tumors in rats with no apparent toxicity. GRN-163 exhibited favorable tumor uptake and inhibited tumor growth, leading to prolonged lifespan in treated animals. The IND of telomerase inhibitors represents a new therapeutic approach that appears to selectively kill tumor cells, without inducing toxic effects in the surrounding healthy brain tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-175
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Molecular Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Brain tumor
  • GRN-163
  • GRN-163L
  • Imetelstat
  • Intranasal delivery
  • Telomerase inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Genetics(clinical)


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