BackgroundWe investigated the efficacy of the Wee1 inhibitor MK-1775 in combination with radiation for the treatment of pediatric high-grade gliomas (HGGs), including diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs).MethodsGene expression analysis was performed for 38 primary pediatric gliomas (3 grade I, 10 grade II, 11 grade III, 14 grade IV) and 8 normal brain samples using the Agilent 4 × 44 K array. Clonogenic survival assays were carried out in pediatric and adult HGG cell lines (n = 6) to assess radiosensitizing effects of MK-1775. DNA repair capacity was evaluated by measuring protein levels of γ-H2AX, a marker of double strand DNA breaks. In vivo activity of MK-1775 with radiation was assessed in 2 distinct orthotopic engraftment models of pediatric HGG, including 1 derived from a genetically engineered mouse carrying a BRAFV600Emutation, and 1 xenograft model in which tumor cells were derived from a patient's DIPG.ResultsWee1 is overexpressed in pediatric HGGs, with increasing expression positively correlated with malignancy (P =. 007 for grade III + IV vs I + II) and markedly high expression in DIPG. Combination treatment of MK-1775 and radiation reduced clonogenic survival and increased expression of γ-H2AX to a greater extent than achieved by radiation alone. Finally, combined MK-1775 and radiation conferred greater survival benefit to mice bearing engrafted, orthotopic HGG and DIPG tumors, compared with treatment with radiation alone (BRAFV600Emodel P =. 0061 and DIPG brainstem model P =. 0163).ConclusionOur results highlight MK-1775 as a promising new therapeutic agent for use in combination with radiation for the treatment of pediatric HGGs, including DIPG. © 2013 The Author(s).