Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Five Memorial Sloan Kettering scientists have been appointed to a new research team dedicated to identifying targets for therapies to treat a certain form of melanoma.
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) has appointed five Memorial Sloan Kettering scientists to its new “Dream Team” dedicated to melanoma research: Neal Rosen and David Solit, who led laboratory research to explore biological pathways in melanoma; Paul Chapman and Jedd Wolchok, who directed crucial clinical trials of new drugs for metastatic melanoma; and Gary Schwartz, Chief of the Melanoma and Sarcoma Service.
The Melanoma Dream Team is the first to be funded jointly by SU2C, a nonprofit program that raises funds to accelerate the pace of translational research, and the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), the largest private funder of melanoma research.
The SU2C-MRA Melanoma Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant provides up to $6 million during a three-year period. The new project, known as “Personalized Medicine for Patients with BRAF Wild-Type (BRAFwt) Cancer,” will work to identify new targets for therapies to treat certain patients with metastatic melanoma.
About half of patients with metastatic melanoma have a mutation in a gene called BRAF. Researchers have made significant progress in developing treatments for patients with this mutation. For example, research led by Memorial Sloan Kettering medical oncologist and new Melanoma Dream Team member Paul Chapman helped pave the way for the FDA approval of vemurafenib, a drug that targets the BRAF gene and has benefited patients.
However, the other half of patients with metastatic melanoma have the wild, or naturally occurring, type of BRAF gene without a mutation. Scientists have made little progress in developing treatments for these patients, and this project is focused on identifying potential therapies.
SU2C has awarded grants to five previous Dream Teams composed of 221 scientists at 43 institutions around the country. Memorial Sloan Kettering’s own Charles Sawyers, Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, and President and CEO Craig Thompson are co-leaders on two other Dream Teams.
Watch this video to learn more about the creation of this SU2C-MRA Melanoma Dream Team and its goals.