Primary brain tumors, which encompass a variety of malignant and nonmalignant cancers, represent a significant clinical challenge. With little improvement in the survival rates for many types of primary brain tumors, there remains an urgent need to develop new and effective therapeutic strategies.

While aspects of brain development have long been associated with brain tumor pathogenesis, the application of recent high-throughput sequencing technologies to the field has uncovered intricate developmental connections that have revolutionized the way we view these devastating diseases. Brain tumors once considered single entities can now be divided into types and subtypes based on distinct genetic and molecular signatures. Matching these signatures to those of stem and progenitor cells present during brain development has revealed unique cellular origins and genetic susceptibilities. Together, these advancements provide unique opportunities to develop new therapeutic strategies that will improve outcomes for patients and their families.

This special issue of Developmental Neuroscience includes a series of review and research articles focused on the topic of brain tumors. These articles cover a range of brain tumor types, including high-grade glioma, ependymoma, medulloblastoma, and ganglioglioma. The review by Foss and Pathania provides a comprehensive overview of pediatric high-grade glioma, current cutting-edge model systems, and their contribution to advancements in our understanding of the disease and treatment outlooks. Focusing more on adult gliomas, Deleyrolle and Sarkisian review the contribution of primary cilia to glioma growth and treatment response and how newer technologies such as Tumor Treating Fields are being investigated at therapeutic modalities. The review by Sabet and Breunig examines the methodology used for lineage tracing the origin and evolution of brain tumors, highlighting some of the newest techniques and model systems that provide unprecedented insight into brain tumor biology. Kardian and Mack provide a thorough review on ependymoma, detailing the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that drive tumor formation and growth and how this parallels processes in normal brain development. In addition to these reviews, there are also two research articles that apply novel model systems to provide new insight into ganglioglioma and medulloblastoma.

This special issue will be of great interest to both basic and translationally oriented scientists, as well as clinicians who interact directly with brain tumor patients on a daily basis. The cross-pollination of developmental neuroscience, cancer biology, and genomic fields has yielded significant advancements in our understanding of brain tumors and will hopefully lead toward the goal of improving outcomes for patients.

The author has no conflicts of interest to declare.

No funding sources were part of this editorial.

T.N.P. drafted and revised the content of this work. T.N.P. approved the version to be published and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work.