Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Committee Member

Jeoung Soo Lee, Ph.D., Committee Chair

Committee Member

Brian Booth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Lynn M.D.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a grade IV glioma, is the most common primary brain tumor, affecting about 3 out of 100,000 persons per year in the United States. GBM accounts for about 80% of primary malignant brain tumors, and is also the most aggressive of malignant brain tumors. With exhaustive treatment, survival only averages between 12 and 15 months, with a 2-year survival rate less than 25%. New therapeutic strategies are necessary to improve the outcomes of this disease. Chemotherapy with temozolomide (TMZ), a DNA alkylating agent, is used as a first-line of treatment for GBM. However, GBM tumors develop resistance to TMZ over time due to increased expression of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), a gene responsible for DNA repair. We previously developed cationic, amphiphilic copolymer poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-g-polyethylenimine (PgP) and demonstrated its utility for nucleic acid delivery. Here, we examine the ability of PgP polyplexes to overcome TMZ resistance and improve therapeutic efficacy through combination drug and gene therapy for GBM treatment. In this study, we evaluated the ability of PgP to deliver siRNA targeting to MGMT (siMGMT), a gene responsible for drug resistance in GBM. Our results demonstrated that PgP effectively forms stable complex with siRNA and protects siRNAs from heparin competition assay, serum- and ribonuclease-mediated degradation, confirming the potential of the polyplex for in vivo delivery. Results from MTT assays showed that PgP/siRNA polyplexes exhibited minimal cytotoxicity compared to untreated cells when incubated with T98G human GBM cells. We also demonstrated that PgP/siMGMT polyplexes mediate knockdown of MGMT protein as well as a significant ~56% and ~68% knockdown of MGMT mRNA in T98G GBM cells compared to cells treated with PgP complexed with non-targeting siRNA (siNT) at a 60:1 and 80:1 nitrogen:phosphate (N:P) ratio, respectively. Further, co-incubation of PgP/siMGMT polyplexes with TMZ enhanced therapeutic efficacy in T98G GBM cells compared to treatment with the polyplex or TMZ alone. After generation of athymic mouse GBM model, PgP/siMGMT polyplexes were locally injected into the tumor. Relative to untreated injury only, PgP/siMGMT polyplexes significantly reduced MGMT mRNA and protein expression at 3 days post-injection. These studies demonstrate that PgP is an efficient non-viral delivery carrier for therapeutic siMGMT to the tumor cells and may be a promising platform for the combinatorial siRNA/drug therapy for GBM treatment. In the future, we will study the therapeutic efficacy of combination of PgP/siMGMT and TMZ in athymic mouse GBM model.



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