Tumori, gli esperti: “Mappare i geni della sopravvivenza”

Roma, 27 gennaio 2021 – Mappare i geni da cui dipende la sopravvivenza dei tumori per farne un bersaglio di farmaci: è l’obiettivo del progetto ‘Cancer Dependency Map’, per cui diversi istituti di ricerca, a partire dal Wellcome Sanger Institute di Cambridge, il Broad Institute di Harvard e Mit (Massachussets institute of technology), chiedono, sulle pagine della rivista Nature, la partecipazione dei centri di genomica e investimenti da tutto il mondo. Come spiegano i promotori, tra cui c’è anche Francesco Iorio, dello Human Technopole di Milano e Wellcome Sanger Institute, per trovare il punto debole genetico di ogni tipo di tumore è necessario analizzare un’enorme mole di dati e coinvolgere il più vasto numero di istituzioni scientifiche e ricercatori in tutto il mondo. L’obiettivo finale del progetto è sviluppare nuovi farmaci, o individuare tra quelli già esistenti i più adatti per agire sui geni da cui dipendono le funzioni indispensabili alla sopravvivenza del tumore. Un risultato che, secondo le stime, si potrà ottenere ‘spegnendo’ 20.000 geni e valutando l’attività di 10.000 farmaci in almeno 20.000 modelli di cancro. I ricercatori calcolano che servirà un investimento di 30-50 milioni di dollari in un decennio per realizzare il progetto. Come spiega Iain Mattaj, direttore dello Human Technopole, “quasi 15 anni fa scienziati e medici hanno deciso di caratterizzare i genomi dei tumori di migliaia di pazienti attraverso progetti su larga scala come il Cancer Genome Atlas e l’International Cancer Genome Consortium. Ma meno di un quarto delle persone con i tumori più comuni beneficia oggi della medicina di precisione – continua – Per questo abbiamo deciso di aderire al progetto. Allo Human Technopole ci focalizzeremo sui tumori cerebrali”. La fase pilota del progetto è già partita con l’analisi di decine di tipi di tumori, portando alla scoperta di più di 30 bersagli farmacologici su cui sono già stati avviati studi clinici. Lo studio partirà allargando, rispetto alla fase pilota, la gamma di farmaci e manipolazioni genetiche da testare.

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