Sandro Santagata, MD, PhD, is a clinical sub-specialist in Neuropathology with a background in Neuroscience and Pathology. His research focuses on identifying therapeutic targets in brain tumors and implementing new technologies for tumor imaging. He is currently leading efforts to develop multi-dimensional tumor atlases as part of the Biden Moonshot Human Tumor Atlas Network (HTAN).
“Our hope is that this will be used to reveal important vulnerabilities in tumors that will ultimately benefit our patients.”
- For decades, diagnosing cancers involved revising histology sections. New genomic technologies have expanded our diagnostic capabilities — genetic mutations in cancer oncogenes can now be identified and subsequently targeted using cancer immunotherapies.
- Despite the advances in targeted immunotherapies, many patients do not have tumors which are responsive to this intervention. New analytical approaches are needed to study tumors.
- Santagata’s work focuses on developing novel computation and analytic methods using mass spectrometry (MS). The team is conducting the first clinical trial to classify new data and samples using MS to identify tumor grade, tumor prognosis, and drugs present in tumor cells
- These methods represent tremendous opportunity — including disrupting the current paradigm for intraoperative diagnosis and allowing for surgeons to cut down on OR time.
- But there is one downside: the resolution with MS is not as good as with traditional methods, such as MRI. The team has taken on a new approach for high resolution pathology called tissue cyclic immunofluorescence. In time, with AI and other approaches, features such as nuclear size and cell shape can be extracted to define new tumor cell states.