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Keywords:

  • high-grade gliomas;
  • integrated analyses;
  • molecular markers;
  • predictive factors;
  • prognostic factors;
  • target therapies

K. Masui, T. F. Cloughesy and P. S. Mischel (2012) Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology38, 271–291

Molecular pathology in adult high-grade gliomas: from molecular diagnostics to target therapies

The classification of malignant gliomas is moving from a morphology-based guide to a system built on molecular criteria. The development of a genomic landscape for gliomas and a better understanding of its functional consequences have led to the development of internally consistent molecular classifiers. However, development of a biologically insightful classification to guide therapy is still a work in progress. Response to targeted treatments is based not only on the presence of drugable targets, but rather on the molecular circuitry of the cells. Further, tumours are heterogeneous and change and adapt in response to drugs. Therefore, the challenge of developing molecular classifiers that provide meaningful ways to stratify patients for therapy remains a major challenge for the field. In this review, we examine the potential role of MGMT methylation, IDH1/2 mutations, 1p/19q deletions, aberrant epidermal growth factor receptor and PI3K pathways, abnormal p53/Rb pathways, cancer stem-cell markers and microRNAs as prognostic and predictive molecular markers in the setting of adult high-grade gliomas and we outline the clinically relevant subtypes of glioblastoma with genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic integrated analyses. Furthermore, we describe how these advances, especially in epidermal growth factor receptor/PI3K/mTOR signalling pathway, affect our approaches towards targeted therapy, raising new challenges and identifying new leads.