Gliomas are the most frequent cerebral neoplasiae (about 40%) and are clinically divided in four stages, according to histological classification by W.H.O., where glioblastoma (GBM; stage IV) is the most common and aggressive. GBM mainly affects males aged around 45-70 and is responsible for 4% of all deaths caused by cancer since the estimated median survival is 5 months. This severe prognosis has remained practically unchanged over the past decades despite technological advances in clinical medicine and active research in GBM pathogenesis. The combination of surgery and chemio/radiotherapy is still the most common therapeutical approach, but it is ineffective in assuring a life expectancy longer than two years.
One of the reasons for this poor prognosis is the inherent complexity of the tumor. In the last few years the researchers’ attention has been focused on Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs) thought to be responsible for the tumor growth, maintenance and recurrence. Many evidences have confirmed these hypotheses displaying in vitro and in vivo (in mice models) CSCs mutations and tumor properties. More recently, these CSCs has revealed intrinsic heterogeneity that has been associated with the poor prognosis of tumor of origin. CSCs eradication appears essential for a stable and long-term tumor removal, as CSCs aberrant differentiation abilities make it resistant to chemiotherapy.
For a more effective tumor eradication, the use of Neural Stem Cells (NSCs), endogeneous stem cells in brain tissue, offers a new potential therapeutic approach meant as a cell-based delivery system for gene therapy in cerebral tumours.