Dario Marchetti, PhD, recently joined Houston Methodist Hospital as the new Director of the Center for Biomarkers. Over the past 7 years, Dr. Marchetti’s laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine has made key discoveries in the biology and clinical use of circulating tumor cells. Dr. Marchetti’s team also has identified biomarkers that could one day lead to a circulating tumor cell biomarker test that may guide the treatment of brain metastases in patients with breast cancer.
Circulating tumor cells are proving to be viable diagnostic tools for noninvasive, real-time assessment of molecular profiles during the course of cancer progression, Dr. Marchetti said. However, he pointed out that current technologies prevent researchers from identifying the majority of the circulating tumor cells from breast cancer patients that metastasize to the brain. Most cancer deaths are due to metastasis, and brain metastases are increasing in frequency with poor survival rates.
Dr. Marchetti and his team are working to develop a biomarker program with Houston Methodist faculty across numerous disciplines, but they will primarily focus on brain metastasis. Dr. Marchetti’s main priorities are to better understand why cancer recurs and how to decipher the molecular heterogeneity of circulating tumor cell subsets shed from tumors responsible for metastases.
Dr. Marchetti received his doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Pavia, Italy. He serves on the editorial boards of numerous journals; is a grant reviewer for national and international funding agencies (including the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense); and is a consultant for several biotechnology companies. ■