Malignant gliomas, including the most devastating type, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), are characterised by their local growth and aggressive infiltration of the normal brain. GBMs result in a profound disability, leading to death in almost all cases. There has been little improvement in outcome despite intensive clinical and laboratory research during recent decades. Interestingly, many researchers have been successful in treating GBM models in animals, but the success has been limited when new treatment principles have been translated into the clinic. One reason for this failure is the lack of appropriate animal models that reflect the behaviour of human GBMs. Therapeutic progress has also been hindered by the limited delivery of effective therapeutic compounds to an extremely heterogenic tumour cell population. This article discusses the present use and limitations of preclinical animal models to study glioma growth and progression. In addition, it focuses on the potential use of cell-based therapies for the treatment of GBMs. This includes aspects of gene therapy, stem cell therapy and immunotherapy. Several of these treatment modalities use the principle of transplanting cells or compounds that either directly or indirectly show therapeutic efficacy. Many of these principles depend on an increased biological knowledge of gliomas. The development of new therapeutic principles based on such knowledge may finally provide glioma patients with an improved survival.
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