Center for Pre-cancer Atlases of Cutaneous and Hematologic Origin (PATCH)
Melanoma is a common type of cancer that can be treated with minor surgery when it is localized but which becomes lethal when it metastasizes. Unfortunately, primary tumors often become metastatic when they are small, making melanoma a dangerous disease. Our program seeks to answer the following questions about.
What is the sequence of events that leads to metastatic melanoma and how does disease progression differ with anatomic location?
Why does the immune system successfully clear many pre-melanomas but fail with others?
How can we improve the accuracy of early diagnosis and how can treatment be improved for cancers that do progress to metastatic disease?
The HMS PATCH Center is a component of the National Cancer Institute Human Tumor Atlas Network (HTAN), a multi-center program within the National Cancer Institute that emerged from the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative. The HTAN aims to construct high resolution, publically-accessible data on the spatial, genetic and epigenetic features of common human cancers and pre-cancers. The HMS PATCH Center is focused on mechanisms underlying expansion of specific clones in normal and diseased niches as shaped by complex interactions with immune and stromal cells. We are developing computational models and high accuracy datasets of mechanisms driving progression from pre-malignant to malignant disease as a means to identify high risk individuals, prioritize particular therapies and create perform “precision prevention trials” in the future. The pre-melanoma atlas is being created using integrated characterization of single cell genotype and cell states using high-plex tissue imaging (with the CyCIF approach) and genomic/transcriptomic characterization of cross-sectional and well-controlled longitudinal patient cohorts.
Funding: The PATCH Center at Harvard Medical School is funded by a Human Tumor Atlas Network grant U2C-CA233262 (Peter Sorger, Sandro Santagata and John Aster, PIs) from the National Cancer Institute entitled “Pre-cancer atlases of cutaneous and hematologic origin (PATCH Center)”.