Glioblastoma heterogeneity and the tumour microenvironment: implications for preclinical research and development of new treatments.Biochem Soc Trans 2019; 47(2):625-638BS
Glioblastoma is the deadliest form of brain cancer. Aside from inadequate treatment options, one of the main reasons glioblastoma is so lethal is the rapid growth of tumour cells coupled with continuous cell invasion into surrounding healthy brain tissue. Significant intra- and inter-tumour heterogeneity associated with differences in the corresponding tumour microenvironments contributes greatly to glioblastoma progression. Within this tumour microenvironment, the extracellular matrix profoundly influences the way cancer cells become invasive, and changes to extracellular (pH and oxygen levels) and metabolic (glucose and lactate) components support glioblastoma growth. Furthermore, studies on clinical samples have revealed that the tumour microenvironment is highly immunosuppressive which contributes to failure in immunotherapy treatments. Although technically possible, many components of the tumour microenvironment have not yet been the focus of glioblastoma therapies, despite growing evidence of its importance to glioblastoma malignancy. Here, we review recent progress in the characterisation of the glioblastoma tumour microenvironment and the sources of tumour heterogeneity in human clinical material. We also discuss the latest advances in technologies for personalised and in vitro preclinical studies using brain organoid models to better model glioblastoma and its interactions with the surrounding healthy brain tissue, which may play an essential role in developing new and more personalised treatments for this aggressive type of cancer.