Irreversible growth plate fusions in children with medulloblastoma treated with a targeted hedgehog pathway inhibitor

Giles W. Robinson, Sue C. Kaste, Wassim Chemaitilly, Daniel C. Bowers, Stephen Laughton, Amy Smith, Nicholas G. Gottardo, Sonia Partap, Anne Bendel, Karen D. Wright, Brent A. Orr, William C. Warner, Arzu Onar-Thomas, Amar Gajjar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The permanent defects in bone growth observed in preclinical studies of hedgehog (Hh) pathway inhibitors were not substantiated in early phase clinical studies of vismodegib in children. Consequently, vismodegib advanced into pediatric trials for malignancies suspected of being driven by aberrant activation of the Hh pathway. In one multicenter phase II trial, vismodegib was added to the therapy regimen for newly diagnosed Hh pathway activated medulloblastoma. Herein, we report on 3 children (2 on trial and one off trial) treated with vismodegib who developed widespread growth plate fusions that persist long after cessation of therapy. Currently, all 3 patients exhibit profound short stature and disproportionate growth, and 2 subsequently developed precocious puberty. Notably, the growth plate fusions only developed after a prolonged exposure to the drug (> 140 days). These findings resulted in a major trial amendment to restrict the agent to skeletally mature patients as well as a product label warning and update. Moreover, these findings alter the risk-benefit ratio of Hh inhibitors and underscore the importance of careful study of targeted agents in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69295-69302
Number of pages8
Issue number41
StatePublished - 2017


  • Childhood toxicity
  • Hedgehog inhibitor
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Premature physeal fusion
  • Targeted therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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