A glioma is a type of tumor that starts in the brain or spine. Gliomas arise from glial cells, which act as a supportive cell in the central nervous system. Gliomas are the second most common type of tumor after meningiomas.
There are three types of normal glial cells that can produce tumors. An astrocyte will produce astrocytomas (including glioblastomas), an oligodendrocyte will produce oligodendrogliomas, and ependymomas come from ependymal cells. Tumors that display a mixture of these different cells are called mixed gliomas. Tumors are also commonly identified by their specific locations (such as brain stem gliomas), not the tissue type from which they originate.
Gliomas are also categorized by grade, determined by pathologic evaluation of the tumor. Of numerous grading systems in use, the most common is the World Health Organization (WHO) grading system for astrocytoma, under which tumors are graded from I (least advanced disease / best prognosis) to IV (most advanced disease / worst prognosis).
Symptoms of gliomas depend on which part of the central nervous system is affected. They can cause headaches, nausea, and seizures as a result of pressure caused by tumor growth. A glioma of the optic nerve can cause visual loss, while spinal cord gliomas can cause pain, weakness, or numbness in the extremities.
Gliomas are difficult tumors to treat. Recently, several investigations into the nature of glioma tumors and glioma treatments have been undertaken. The following are some of the current projects we are funding related to gliomas: