He used art and its iconographies to explain in a simple and engaging way the most promising perspectives of medical research, especially in relation to recent technological developments. Speaking at the conference organized by Wired Italia in collaboration with Humanitas, which was held in the space of Base Milano during the Milan Digital Week, Prof. Alberto Mantovani, Scientific Director of Humanitas, explained the challenges of the research, underlining that without the computational approach made possible by technological innovation, the medicine would not have been able to make the extraordinary steps forward which were made over the past few years and which have to be carried forward in the future that still awaits us.
The immune system: a large orchestra whose players are still to be deciphered
In this direction, when much has already been done, it is thanks to Professor Mantovani, an illustrious Italian researcher who has brought Italy’s honor to the world in the field of medical research and who explained to the audience gathered by Wired Italia on the occasion of the Milan Digital Week how the immune system can be seen as a complex orchestra of which not all the orchestras have yet been discovered.
“The researchers – declared the professor – are still working on a complex work of deciphering this system that, for the number of cells involved and the importance of its functions in the human body, is a sort of alter ego of the nervous system. The discovery of new sections of the immune system is naturally driven by the use of technology, through which data are analyzed and related which would otherwise not be possible to derive new knowledge”.
In the pursuit of a new Human Body Atlas in the service of immunological therapy
Thanks to monoclonal antibodies, it has been possible to start a protocol of treatments that today are primary in the treatment of colon and breast tumors, especially when the latter do not respond adequately to the traditional therapies.
The new frontier of cancer research is in fact represented primarily by immunological therapy, which is a dream that medicine has had for 100 years and in the recent development of which the scientific director of Humanitas has been the undisputed protagonist.
A total of two and a half million lives a year saved by vaccines
“In addition to the development of immunological therapies that today are the new frontier in the fight against cancer, another interesting challenge of research today is represented by vaccines – said Mantovani -: they currently save 2.5 million lives per year, 5 lives per minute. Despite the great results already obtained, the potential of these instruments of treatment and prevention still need to be explored. A problem which needs to be solved, for example, is how to export what the professor has called “a conquest of human civilization”, and achieve it to 1.5 million children who are still dying in the world every year because of their absence.
The computational approach
In any new field of medical research, the winning novelty is the possibility of treating entire sectors, such as traditional immunology or genomics, with a new mode of operation: the computational approach. Thanks to its ability to synthesize an enormous volume of data, the traditional medicine has in fact undergone a revolution that without technology would never have been possible.