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Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is a grade IV astrocytoma and the most aggressive form of cancer that begins within the brain. The two-year average survival rate of GBM in the United

Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is a grade IV astrocytoma and the most aggressive form of cancer that begins within the brain. The two-year average survival rate of GBM in the United States of America is 25%, and it has a higher incidence in individuals within the ages of 45 - 60 years. GBM Tumor formation can either begin as normal brain cells or develop from an existing low-grade astrocytoma and are housed by the perivascular niche in the brain microenvironment. This niche allows for the persistence of a population of cells known as glioma stem cells (GSC) by supplying optimum growth conditions that build chemoresistance and cause recurrence of the tumor within two to five years of treatment. It has therefore become imperative to understand the role of the perivascular niche on GSCs through in vitro modelling in order to improve the efficiency of therapeutic treatment and increase the survival rate of patients with GBM.

In this study, a unique three dimensional (3D) microfluidic platform that permitted the study of intercellular interactions between three different cell types in the perivascular niche of the brain was developed and utilized for the first time. Specifically, human endothelial cells were embedded in a fibrin matrix and introduced into the vascular layer of the microfluidic platform.

After spontaneous formation of a vascular layer, Normal Human Astrocytes and Patient derived GSC were embedded in a Matrigel® matrix and incorporated in the stroma and tumor regions of the microfluidic device respectively.

Using the established platform, migration, proliferation and stemness of GSCs studies were conducted. The findings obtained indicate that astrocytes in the perivascular niche significantly increase the migratory and proliferative properties of GSCs in the tumor microenvironment, consistent with previous in vivo findings.

The novel GBM tumor microenvironment developed herein, could be utilized for further

in-depth cellular and molecular level studies to dissect the influence of individual factors within the tumor niche on GSCs biology, and could serve as a model for developing targeted therapies.

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  • 2020
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  • Masters Thesis Biomedical Engineering 2020

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