Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and malignant primary brain tumor in adults associated with a poor survival. Current standard of care consists of surgical resection followed by radiation and chemotherapy. GBMs are highly heterogeneous, having a complex interaction among different cells within the tumor as well as the tumor microenvironment. One of the main challenges in the neuro-oncology field in general, and GBM in particular, is to find an optimum culture condition that maintains the molecular genotype and phenotype as well as heterogeneity of the original tumor in vitro and in vivo. Established cell lines were shown to be a poor model of the disease, failing to recapitulate the phenotype and harboring non-parental genotypic mutations. Given the growing understanding of GBM biology, the discovery of glioma cancer stem-like cells (GSCs), and their role in tumor formation and therapeutic resistance, scientists are turning more towards patient-derived cells and xenografts as a more representative model. In this review, we will discuss the current state of patient-derived GSCs and their xenografts; and provide an overview of different established models to study GBM biology and to identify novel therapeutics in the pre-clinical phase.
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