RESEARCH ARTICLE SPOTLIGHT: “Functional diversity and cooperativity between subclonal populations of pediatric glioblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma cells”

The following commentary is provided courtesy of Dr. Chris Jones.

Functional diversity and cooperativity between subclonal populations of pediatric glioblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma cells

Vinci et al.  2018 Jul 2. doi: 10.1038/s41591-018-0086-7. [Epub ahead of print]

Most adults cancers are now recognised to be comprised of many different tumour cells with a range of different genetic faults in each, but in childhood brain tumours the picture was less clear. Vinci et al. studied large scale sequencing data of single paediatric high grade glioma and DIPG tumour specimens, as well as many different regions from individual patients. They showed clearly that these cancers are also what we describe as heterogeneous, and are made up of multiple genetically distinct tumour subclones. Critically, in DIPG it is apparent that certain of these subclones may escape the brainstem and colonise distant sites in the brain very early during tumour development. The group were able to isolate different subclones from individual patient samples in the laboratory, and were able to show that rather than compete for resources, they appear to work together and even actively co-operate to move and infiltrate through different parts of the brain. This has major implications for how we design specific targeted therapies against these tumours, as we will need to consider how certain subpopulations may be inherently resistant to the targeted inhibitors we are using. It does however also offer a new opportunity for developing innovative treatments which specifically target the way these subclones interact.