Molecular pathogenesis and therapeutic implications in pediatric high-grade gliomas

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High-grade gliomas (HGG) are the most common malignant brain tumors in the pediatric population and account for a large subset of all pediatric central nervous system neoplasms. The management of pediatric HGG continues to be challenging, with poor outcome in many cases despite aggressive treatments. Consequently, parallel research efforts have been focused on identifying the underlying genetic and biological basis of pediatric HGG in order to more clearly define prognostic subgroups for treatment stratification as well as identify new treatment targets. These cutting-edge advances have revolutionized pediatric neuro-oncology and have revealed novel oncogenic vulnerabilities that are being therapeutically leveraged. Promising treatments – including pathway-targeting small molecules as well as epigenetic therapy – are being evaluated in clinical trials, and recent genomic discoveries in rare glioma subgroups have led to the identification of additional new potentially-actionable alterations. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge about the molecular characterization of pediatric HGG in correlation to the revised World Health Organization (WHO) classification, as well as provides an overview of some targeted treatment approaches in the modern clinical management of high-grade gliomas.

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