TGen, Karmanos to lead three-year melanoma study

A new cancer study, led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, is targeting new therapies for BRAF Wild-Type melanoma.

Kelsey Kaustinen
PHOENIX, Ariz.—A new cancer study, led by the TranslationalGenomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Barbara Ann Karmanos CancerInstitute, is targeting new therapies for BRAF Wild-Type melanoma. Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA),who jointly announced the study today along with the American Association forCancer Research (AACR), SU2C's scientific partner, will be funding the 6million national and international study. As SU2C's scientific partner, theAACR has provided expert peer review and grants administration, in addition toscientific oversight to ensure progress is being made. The AACR and MRA willwork closely together on this venture.
 
The study will be funded by the SU2C-MRA Melanoma Dream TeamTranslational Cancer Research Grant, which will provide a total of $6 millionfor three years. This project will focus on accelerating the application of newtherapies and accelerating the movement of new discoveries to clinic.
 
"The Stand Up To Cancer-Melanoma Research Alliancegrant gives us the remarkable ability to align cutting edge researchers acrossthe globe to join forces to defeat this terrible disease," Dr. JeffreyTrent, Ph.D., President and Research Director at TGen, said in a press release.
 
Nearly 70,000people are diagnosed with melanoma in the United States each year, and thismost dangerous form of skin cancer accounts for approximately 8,000 deathsannually. Metastatic melanoma patients currently face a mediansurvival of six to nine months, and a five-year survival rate of only 15percent to 20 percent. Roughly half of patients with metastatic melanoma havean oncogenic mutation in the tumor's BRAF gene, with the other half being ofthe BRAF wild type (BRAFwt), with no mutation in the gene. Little progress hasbeen made to identify targets for potential treatment for the latter half.

Trent is one of the SU2C-MRA Dream Team leaders, along withDr. Patricia LoRusso, D.O., Director of the Eisenberg Center for ExperimentalTherapeutics at the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Trent is an expert inmolecular-based systems biology approaches to cancer and will supervise thegenetic and genomic sequencing of patients. The study will involveapproximately 50 scientists and 150 patients at more than a dozen institutes.TGen's collaborators in Arizona will include Mayo Clinic and the BiodesignInstitute at Arizona State University, and the Van Andel Research Institute,TGen's Michigan-based affiliate institute, will also contribute.
 
"We hope to use this unique multi-stage clinicalinvestigation to define new treatments that will produce benefits formetastatic melanoma patients, based on extensive genomic profiling. We havegreat scientists and clinicians from across the nation who will join forces onthis," said LoRusso.
 
 
Several other Dream Team institutes will also be involved,including Scripps Research Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Sanford-BurnhamMedical Research Institute, Michigan State University, the National CancerInstitute, the University of California Santa Cruz, Memorial Sloan-KetteringCancer Center, Queensland Institute for Medical Research, VanderbiltUniversity, Scottsdale Healthcare and Mayo Clinic campuses in Minnesota andFlorida.
 
 
The scientists will study the utility of personalizedtarget/therapy identification in patients with BRAFwt metastatic melanoma andinvestigate the efficacy of molecularly guided therapy using a number ofFDA-approved and investigational agents, with a goal of a 30-percentimprovement in tumor response compared to standard-of-care therapy. BRAFwt andBRAF-mutant cells lines will be profiled and tested for sensitivity to 100prioritized compounds with the potential for therapeutic utility, and thosedata will be used to generate models to predict BRAFwt sensitivity to certaindrugs. The predictions will be tested on both xenografts and primary tumors,and a clinical trial will determine if a personalized approach cansignificantly improve clinical outcome.
 
"Having a Dream Team of physicians and scientists focus onsuch an important and unmet need for patients who are not able to benefit fromthe latest breakthrough drugs is a most welcome development," Debra Black,co-founder and chair of the MRA, said in a press release. "MRA's joining withStand Up to Cancer and AACR to field such a talented and committed team marksan event of great significance that could herald a next wave of discoveries forpatients and all those at risk of being diagnosed with this deadly skincancer."
 
 
SOURCE: TGen press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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