Gliomas form a very heterogeneous class of tumors that present with different growth phenotypes, ranging from invasive lesions without notable mass-effect to strongly displacing lesions that induce mechanical stresses and result in healthy-tissue deformation, midline shift or herniation.

Displacing vs. invading GBM Phenotype. Images from TCGA-GBM dataset

Recent studies have shown the importance of biomechanical forces in shaping the tumour microenvironment, contributing to tumour progression and treatment response. Forces building up as a result of tumour growth might alter the behaviour of cancer cells (cell proliferation, invasive and metastatic potential) and can reduce blood perfusion by compressing intratumoral blood vessels, thus affecting drug delivery. Local stiffening of brain tissue due to compression may also affect therapies that rely on cellular migration into the tumor. This suggests that biomechanical factors may have direct implications not only on the biophysical level, but also for clinical decision-making, affecting treatment response and outcome.

The GlimS project seeks to understand the role of biomechanics in the formation of different GBM phenotypes, and to identify “biomechanical markers” that may be used to inform clinical decision making for individual patients.