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Melanoma Research: Progress is Power

From the desk of MRF CEO Kyleigh LiPira:

The MRF attended the 2022 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, one of the largest international oncology meetings with more than 40,000 oncology leaders, advocates and drug development representatives. The MRF kicked off the meeting by convening established investigators and promising junior faculty at its biannual Breakthrough Consortium (MRFBC) meeting with discussions focused on strategic collaboration in cutaneous and rare tumors.

This meeting is extremely relevant to patients because results from studies are presented and this work often translates to future FDA approvals. Of particular note, SWOG 1512, a pilot study in rare desmoplastic melanoma, showed that immunotherapy given before surgery (neoadjuvant) resulted in complete tumor disappearance at the time of surgery in 15 of 27 patients. This may result in shorter treatment time and smaller resections in some patients. MRF Scientific Advisory Committee Co-Chair Michael B. Atkins, MD shared data from the phase III randomized trial DREAMseq/EA6134 showing greater overall survival at both 2 and 3 years when immunotherapy (nivo/ipi) was provided prior to targeted therapy (dab/tram) suggesting that this is the preferred treatment sequence for most BRAF-mutant patients. Lastly, in an update with longer follow-up data of the phase 2/3 study RELATIVITY-047, the combination of nivo plus rela continued to demonstrate consistent progression free survival and meaningful clinical improvement in overall survival when compared to nivo alone without any new/unexpected toxicities. This data validates nivo + rela as a potential new treatment option in patients with advanced melanoma and supports the benefit of dual checkpoint inhibition.

Neoadjuvant/adjuvant therapy continues to be an important topic in the treatment of melanoma patients that can cure more patients by moving treatment to earlier stages of disease, prior to metastases. With the recent FDA approval of adjuvant pembro for the treatment of stage IIB/IIC melanoma after surgery, this is a hot topic that was discussed by experts in the field where they presented results from several trials during the melanoma oral session (including SWOG 1512). All panelists agreed that this therapy is feasible and in some instances, decreased the amount of surgical intervention needed; however, the timing of the therapy (whether it be neoadjuvant, adjuvant, or done at the time of recurrence) was not definitively answered. The consensus was that treatment decisions should be tailored to each patient’s needs after determining the risk/benefit ratio.

Stay tuned for more updates as well as an update on the ocular melanoma trials from ASCO. Read below about groundbreaking research the MRF has funded through the generosity of our donor community!





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Innovative and Translational Research Grants Announced

In the latest round of research funding, we are pleased to announce the award of three new exciting research grants. The first two were awarded through the MRF Breakthrough Consortium (MRFBC) and one new grant category.

The MRF Breakthrough Consortium-Bristol Myers Squibb Young Investigator Research Team Award to Advance the Field of Translational Immuno-Oncology was awarded to Alexander C. Huang, MD (University of Pennsylvania, Co-PIs: Ramin Herati, MD; John Muira, MD. Mentor: Ravi Amaravadi, MD) for a study titled Exhausted CD8 T cells as an early indicator of lymph node metastasis and the need for adjuvant therapy in Stage II melanoma, determining which patients may benefit from adjuvant immunotherapy. Minah Kim, PhD (Columbia University) was awarded the inaugural MRFBC Pilot Translational Award for a proposal titled Identification of angiopoietin-2/Tie signaling molecules as predictive biomarkers for ICI resistance in melanoma, analyzing tumor characteristics to predict the likelihood of developing treatment resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

The inaugural Mid-Career Bridge Grant was awarded to Yuwen Zhu, PhD (University of Colorado Denver) for his proposal studying molecular interactions in melanoma tumors to increase immune response, titled Melanoma Immunotherapy with GPR182 blockade. The purpose of the Mid-Career Bridge Grant is to support established melanoma researchers who have pre-existing R01s and have applied for an NIH R01 grant that was scored, but not funded. This one-year grant allows investigators to continue their research and reapply for NIH funding in the next grant cycle. The Mid-Career Bridge Grants will be awarded twice more in 2022, with application deadlines of August 15 and December 15. More information can be found in the Request for Proposals (RFP).

New Melanoma Education Resources

Education is crucial for patients and caregivers to make informed decisions after a melanoma diagnosis and the MRF continually works to develop and provide a variety of educational opportunities. Check out some of the new and upcoming resources below, and if you have suggestions on topics you’d like to learn more about, please reach out to education@melanoma.org!

  • Patient & Caregiver Meetings: we hold several meetings throughout the year at cancer centers across the country to discuss the latest information in melanoma care. We also plan educational meetings for ocular melanoma patients, as well as pediatric melanoma patients and their families. Be sure to check the Patient & Caregiver Meetings page for new meeting announcements and recordings from previous events.
  • Webinars: Our Ask the Expert series is now being held 1-2 times each month on a variety of topics from prevention to survivorship and everything in between! These 45-60 minute live events allow you to hear directly from experts and ask your questions in real time. Our most recent webinar was held on June 24 and featured a discussion with Dr. Jason Luke about front-line therapies and how the LAG3 gene could impact new therapy development. Can’t attend a webinar live? Check out our webinar library on our new learning platform: learn.melanoma.org. Registration is free!

  • Education and Advocacy Courses: We offer multiple online courses to improve your melanoma education and advocacy efforts. Visit the Education Institute to take a course today, and then stay tuned later this year for an updated course designed in part by medical students highly interested in dermatology!
  • Free Educational Materials: Many of our educational materials focus on the prevention and early detection of melanoma, and we have Patient Guides for cutaneous and ocular melanoma patients designed to help you navigate through melanoma diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. View the library and request your materials today for your local health fair, school event, or fundraiser, and be sure to check out our newest item: the Mucosal Melanoma Awareness brochure.

  • Animated Patient Videos: We are proud to offer a library of animated videos that explain complex melanoma topics in a highly visual, easy to understand format. Along with our partners at Mechanisms in Medicine, we produce 1-3 videos each year.

 

Upcoming Ocular Melanoma Patient & Caregiver Meeting

The MRF's CURE OM initiative invites you to attend the Eyes on a Cure: Patient and Caregiver Symposium (our first in-person meeting since 2019!) on Friday, August 26 in partnership with Thomas Jefferson University Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. The symposium will include both in-person and virtual participation options. The following day, we encourage the entire Philadelphia melanoma community to attend the Miles for Melanoma Philadelphia 5k on Saturday, August 27. Register for both events today and we can’t wait to see our friends in Philadelphia!


 

Pediatric Melanoma Summit - Registration Closes Tomorrow!

Join pediatric melanoma patients, survivors, siblings and families from across the country at the Pediatric Melanoma Summit in Phoenix, AZ on July 22-24 at Great Wolf Lodge! Leading physicians and researchers will share the latest developments in pediatric melanoma research and treatment, the MRF and our partners will provide education and support resources, and there will be plenty of time to enjoy the giant indoor water park! Click here to learn more about the event including how to register and make a hotel reservation. Make your reservation by Friday, July 1 to secure a room in the MRF room block. Travel scholarships in the amount of $1,000 are available for patients and their immediate family members. For any additional questions about the summit or the MRF's pediatric melanoma program, please email education@melanoma.org. We look forward to seeing you in Phoenix!


Join Us at an Upcoming Gala!

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities for the Denver Gala and New York Gala are now available!

At the 11th Annual Denver Gala on September 15, 2022, Neil Box, PhD, Visiting Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, will be honored with the Humanitarian Award. Catherine Carretero, MD, of Lower Highlands Dermatology will be presented with the Excellence in Prevention Award and the Compassionate Care Award will be presented to Krista Treichel, RN, BSN, from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Center for Rare Melanomas. Randi Fodor, Aspen Ross and Lori Frisher will be honored with Courage Awards for the bravery that defined their melanoma journeys.

On October 20, 2022, the MRF is excited to welcome back Emmy Award-winning host, producer and author Andy Cohen as event emcee for the 21st Annual New York Gala. At the gala, the CURE OM Vision of Hope Award will be presented to Brian P. Marr, MD, John Espy Chair of Ocular Oncology at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute. Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and Founder of Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan will be honored with the Excellence in Prevention Award. The Influencer Award will be presented to Dustin Portela, DO, Treasure Valley Dermatology. Courage Awards will honor three inspirational individuals: Monique Mack is a melanoma survivor and advocate who was featured in Neutrogena's "In the Sun" documentary and is a 2022 spokesperson for the MRF's #GetNaked campaign. Summer Sanders is an Olympic Gold Medalist, American sports commentator, reporter, television personality, actress, cutaneous melanoma survivor and #GetNaked spokesperson. A Courage Award in memory of Dave Jones will be presented to his son, NASCAR driver and melanoma advocate Erik Jones.




MRF Galas
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Upcoming Events





 

  • October 8, 2022: Miles for Melanoma San Diego
  • November 5, 2022: Miles for Melanoma Atlanta
  • November 13, 2022: Miles for Melanoma San Francisco
  • December 3, 2022: Miles for Melanoma Los Angeles
 
 




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