Perspective on Translating Biomaterials Into Glioma Therapy: Lessons From in Vitro Models
Cornelison, R. Chase
Munson, Jennifer M.
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Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and malignant form of brain cancer. Even with aggressive standard of care, GBM almost always recurs because its diffuse, infiltrative nature makes these tumors difficult to treat. The use of biomaterials is one strategy that has been, and is being, employed to study and overcome recurrence. Biomaterials have been used in GBM in two ways: in vitro as mediums in which to model the tumor microenvironment, and in vivo to sustain release of cytotoxic therapeutics. In vitro systems are a useful platform for studying the effects of drugs and tissue-level effectors on tumor cells in a physiologically relevant context. These systems have aided examination of how glioma cells respond to a variety of natural, synthetic, and semi-synthetic biomaterials with varying substrate properties, biochemical factor presentations, and non-malignant parenchymal cell compositions in both 2D and 3D environments. The current in vivo paradigm is completely different, however. Polymeric implants are simply used to line the post-surgical resection cavities and deliver secondary therapies, offering moderate impacts on survival. Instead, perhaps we can use the data generated from in vitro systems to design novel biomaterial-based treatments for GBM akin to a tissue engineering approach. Here we offer our perspective on the topic, summarizing how biomaterials have been used to identify facets of glioma biology in vitro and discussing the elements that show promise for translating these systems in vivo as new therapies for GBM.