Chiara Maria Mazzanti
Laboratory of Genomics and Transcriptomics
+39 050 8753549
Cancers that appear identical under microscopic observation can exhibit completely different clinical behaviors in terms of survival and treatment response, based on their specific molecular alterations. Modern personalized medicine can halt the progression of the disease through drugs targeting specific pathologically modified proteins.
The transformation of a cell population from normal to tumorous occurs gradually, through the progressive accumulation of various gene mutations passed from a mother cell to its daughter cells. Some of these modified genes give rise to proteins that enhance the proliferative capacity of cells, while others enable tumor cells to invade nearby tissues and colonize distant organs.
As a consequence of progressive heterogeneity, tumor cells and molecules acquire specific abilities that, like different instruments in an orchestra, intertwine in a highly regulated dialogue necessary for promoting malignancy. The genome/transcriptome of the tumor microenvironment, broken down into its components, is essential for understanding the progression of metastatic disease. Understanding this evolution enables the development of new molecular-targeted drugs and optimization of current therapeutic treatments.
The group led by Chiara Maria Mazzanti is dedicated to characterizing disrupted cellular networks during cancer progression through systematic, high-throughput analyses of the entire genome at the DNA and mRNA levels.
Recently, Dr. Mazzanti has also pioneered the development of 3D in vitro models derived from patients with brain tumors. Tumor organoids cultivated in three-dimensional culture provide an excellent platform for studying tumor progression, invasion, and drug response. These organoids contain all the components of the original tissue, including malignant epithelial cells, endothelial cells, leukocytes, and fibroblasts. Three-dimensional organoid cultures recapitulate the in vivo tissue structural organization, functional differentiation, chemical and mechanical signals, and therefore may be more physiologically relevant than 2D cultures of primary or immortalized cells.
In this context, thanks to obtaining one of the FPS grants 2018, FPS is currently conducting a systematic in vitro personalized study, to the sensitivity to specific drugs of tumors derived from glioblastoma patients, using optical imaging (FLIM) of metabolically induced changes by pharmacological treatment.
Furthermore, Dr. Mazzanti has initiated an in-depth study on the behavior of tumor cells derived directly from patients with glioblastoma, examining them both as individual entities and in relation to other cells in the tumor microenvironment. This multidimensional approach, considering both individual tumor cells and their broader context, is crucial for obtaining an in-depth understanding of glioblastoma and could prove crucial for the development of personalized and targeted therapies. Dr. Mazzanti is committed to exploring complex cellular interactions to contribute to the development of more effective therapeutic approaches against this particularly aggressive form of brain tumor.
Chiara Maria Mazzanti received her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and her Ph.D. in Experimental Oncology and Tumor Biomorphology from the University of Pisa. She spent many years abroad, including at the Laboratory of Human Neurogenetics, NIAAA, NIH, Bethesda MD, USA, at the Advanced Technology Center of the National Cancer Institute of Health (NCI/NIH), and at the Laboratory of Human Cytogenetics, Cancer Research UK, London. Recently, she completed her specialization in Clinical Pathology at the University of Pisa.