Glioma stem cells (GSCs) are thought to be the source of tumor growth and therapy resistance. To understand the biology of GSCs, and target these tumors therapeutically, we need robust strategies for in vitro expansion of primary GSCs. To date, tumor core biopsies have been the main established source of GSCs. Since these samples are used for diagnostic purposes, the available tissue for cell culture and therapeutic targeting can be limited. In addition, a core biopsy is usually taken from one part of the tumor, thus would be unlikely to represent intra-tumor heterogeneity. To overcome these problems, tissue fragments from all over the tumor can be collected using an ultrasonic aspirator during surgery, thus assembling a “global tumor biopsy”. Usually, this ultrasonic aspirate (UA) sample is considered as biological waste after operations. Here, we show that UA samples offer a large and reliable source of live cells. Similar to core biopsies, UA samples enriched for GSCs that differentiated into neural lineages, showed inter-individual variation of GSC markers, and induced tumors. Molecular profiling showed that UA samples cover tumor heterogeneity better than core biopsies. These results suggest that UA samples can be used to establish large scale cultures for therapeutic applications.
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