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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

Solution to Melanoma’s Resistance to Drug Therapy is Goal of Team Funded by NIH

The deadliest of skin cancers a growing problem with increasing number of seniors

Dec. 5, 2013 - Melanoma remains the deadliest, most aggressive form of skin cancer, primarily due to the resistance of the advanced cancer to drug therapy, despite the new BRAF inhibitors that show success in early treatment. And, it is a growing threat, since in often attacks seniors, the most rapidly increasing age group. There is new hope, however, from a $12.5 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to a team of melanoma scientists to find a solution to melanoma’s drug resistance.

These scientists from The Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania received this grant for a five-year program to continue trailblazing research on targeted therapies in melanoma.

Team leader Meenhard Herlyn, D.V.M., D.Sc., director of Wistar's Melanoma Research Center and professor in the Institute's Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program, brought together the team of melanoma scientists to study the intractable problem of melanoma drug resistance.

"Inevitably, advanced melanoma becomes resistant to drug therapy, and despite the new BRAF inhibitors that have proven very successful during initial stages of treatment, the disease returns stronger than before," said Herlyn.

 

Related Archive Stories

 
 

Vaccination Fails to Improve Stage II Melanoma Patients

Idea of treating cancer with a vaccine has been around since first vaccines against infectious disease were developed

By John Bean, PhD, EORTC Medical Science Writer

Sept. 13, 2013

Crisis in U.S. Cancer Care Fueled by Rapid Growth of Cancer-Prone Senior Citizens

1.6 million cases diagnosed annually; by 2030 cancer incidence to rise by 45% to 2.3 million per year – mostly senior citizens: IOM report - Video in Story

Sept. 11, 2013

Promising new approach for harnessing the immune system to fight cancer released today

St. Jude researchers get immune system to shrink melanoma cancer in mice without autoimmune reaction

Aug. 4, 2013

When it comes to skin cancer, pictures are worth a thousand words

Senior citizens, the most frequent victims of skin cancer, need to be aware of how to identify dangerous melanoma skin cancers before the spread - see graphics

Aug 2, 2013

See more links below news report.


 
 

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"We can overcome this drug resistance by utilizing a deeper understanding of melanoma biology to develop more effective therapies or new methods of boosting the effectiveness of existing therapies."

"This grant enables scientists from different backgrounds—tumor biology, structural biology, chemistry, pathology, oncology, and biostatistics—to pool our talents and tackle melanoma from different vantage points," said Herlyn.

According to Herlyn, there are three major goals of this five-year project. First, they seek to better understand the ultimate fate of dying melanoma cells. Cancer therapies are currently designed to trigger apoptosis (an inherent self-destruct mechanism within cells) or necrosis (the death of the cell outright).

However, recent data suggests that two additional fates are common after drug therapy: autophagy (where a cell can survive by digesting damaged portions of itself) and quiescence (a sort of stand-by mode that allows a cell to survive by "riding out" an attack). In particular, the researchers will look for new methods to block cells from using autophagy or any form of hibernation to survive drug therapy.

The second goal of the program will be to generate "second-generation" drugs, where melanoma biologists will team with molecular biologists and chemists to develop new molecular compounds to form the basis of new drugs that are more potent and effective treatments than their predecessors.

The third goal is based on the notion that melanomas are complex tumors, driven by multiple genetic anomalies. As such, the team will develop strategies that pair multiple drugs - both current and experimental therapies - to see which combinations are most effective by targeting different mutations.

The project is supported by five cores, including pathology, cell biology, biostatistics, medical chemistry and an administrative core, which secures a strong infrastructure in support of research.

"This team is positioned to answer important multidisciplinary questions regarding the biology of melanoma cells with the ultimate goal of achieving a cure," said Herlyn. "I am excited for this collaborative effort that will lay the groundwork for new therapies and strategies in melanoma research."

The team includes Maureen Murphy, Ph.D., Wistar professor and program leader of the Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program, associate director of Faculty Development, and associate director for Education; Ronen Marmorstein, Ph.D., Wistar program leader of the Gene Expression and Regulation Program; Jessie Villanueva, Ph.D., Wistar assistant professor of the Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program and member of The Wistar Institute Melanoma Research Center; Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D., Wistar assistant professor in the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program and member of The Wistar Institute Melanoma Center; Jeffrey Winkler, Ph.D., Merriam Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania; and Ravi K. Amaravadi, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.


Links to More Archived Stories on Melanoma Cancer

About Melanoma

Melanoma is a form of cancer that begins in melanocytes (cells that make the pigment melanin). It may begin in a mole (skin melanoma), but can also begin in other pigmented tissues, such as in the eye or in the intestines.

About 76,250 men and women (44,250 men and 32,000 women) were expected to be diagnosed with and 9,180 men and women to die of melanoma of the skin in 2012.

From 2005-2009, the median age at diagnosis for melanoma of the skin was 61 years of age.

Approximately 0.6% were diagnosed under age 20; 6.8% between 20 and 34; 10.7% between 35 and 44; 18.2% between 45 and 54; 21.6% between 55 and 64; 18.8% between 65 and 74; 16.7% between 75 and 84; and 6.6% 85+ years of age.

The age-adjusted incidence rate was 21.0 per 100,000 men and women per year.

US Mortality

From 2005-2009, the median age at death for melanoma of the skin was 68 years of age. Approximately 0.1% died under age 20; 2.6% between 20 and 34; 5.6% between 35 and 44; 13.5% between 45 and 54; 19.9% between 55 and 64; 21.2% between 65 and 74; 24.1% between 75 and 84; and 12.9% 85+ years of age.

The age-adjusted death rate was 2.7 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are based on patients who died in 2005-2009 in the US.

Lifetime Risk

Based on rates from 2007-2009, 1.99% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin during their lifetime. These statistics are called the lifetime risk of developing cancer.

Sometimes it is more useful to look at the probability of developing melanoma of the skin between two age groups. For example, 0.99% of men will develop melanoma of the skin between their 50th and 70th birthdays compared to 0.60% for women

Prevalence

On January 1, 2009, in the United States there were approximately 876,344 men and women alive who had a history of melanoma of the skin - 427,810 men and 448,534 women.

>> See the online booklet What You Need To Know About™ Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers

>> Melanoma home page at American Cancer Society

>> Melanoma Home Page at National Cancer Institute

>> Melanoma at Wikipedia

>> American Academy of Dermatology

Nobody Should Die from Advanced-Stage Melanoma, Says Leading Researcher

Tide is turning in skin cancer battle with more than 100 promising drugs for blocking cancer-causing signaling pathways

July 16, 2013

Fast Acting Virus Kills Melanoma Cancer Cells Before Immune System Can Stop It

Melanoma killer has been highly efficient attacking human cancer cells in animals, lab tests, while ignoring healthy ones

April 23, 2013

Immune System Uses Melanoma's Own Proteins to Kill Off Cancer Cells, Researchers Say

Transfer of cancer building cells to immune system provides crucial intelligence about the attacking cancer, which facilitates the right defense to kill the cancer - Feb. 4, 2013

Earlier Detection of Cancer May Be Enhanced by MIT Discovery with Biomarkers Collected in Urine

Nanoparticles amplify tumor signals, making them much easier to detect in urine - Dec. 17, 2012

Small Test Shows Treatment’s Potential to Stop Spread of Melanoma Cancer

Treatment uses drug believed capable of stimulating a patient’s immune system into attacking cancer cells while sparing healthy normal tissue - Nov. 16, 2012

How Melanoma Skin Cancer Can Resist Chemotherapy is Discovered

Study results suggest new approach to treating most deadly skin cancer - Sept. 17, 2012

Discovery of Biomarker for Deadly Melanoma Skin Cancer Offers New Hope

Researchers were able to reverse melanoma growth in pre-clinical studies  - Sept. 13, 2012

Melanoma Skin Cancer May Be More Treatable with New Discovery

Average age of melanoma diagnosis is 61; over 9,000 expected to die in 2012 - more about this skin cancer below news report - Aug. 15, 2012

Secret to Melanoma Cancer’s Resistance to Treatment Exposed - Hope for Seniors

After melanoma removed from head...Researchers say they have found why treatment is difficult and may have answer for turning this around - July 23, 2012


Aspirin, Painkillers Ward Off Skin Cancer; Second Study Lets Immune System Stop Melanoma

NSAIDs decreased risk for squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma; advanced melanoma patients see scientist lower cancer barrier to allow immune system attack - May 29, 2012


Early Success in Curing Melanoma in Mice Spurs Mayo Vaccine Development

Success with melanoma adds to Mayo Clinic's growing portfolio of experimental cancer vaccines - March 19, 2012


New Therapies May Mean More Life for Patients with Advanced Melanoma

Two new drugs, vemurafenib (Zelboraf) and ipilimumab (Yervoy), showing promise in slowing the progression of this skin cancer - March 16, 2012


Metastatic Melanoma Patients Live Almost Twice as Long with New Drug

Zelboraf (vemurafenib) changes the natural history of the disease to extend survival - see video - Feb. 23, 2012


Cancer Survivors Face Increased Risk of Melanoma; Melanoma Survivors Even More

Melanoma the most aggressive, dangerous skin cancer, fifth most common cancer among men, seventh among women - Dec. 19, 2011


Pre-Melanoma Skin Lesion Found Mostly in Elderly Successfully Removed with Laser

Lentigo maligna disappears as carbon dioxide laser exerts its effect by vaporization of water-containing cells - Nov. 21, 2011


Coffee, Favorite Drink of Seniors, Provides Protection from Basal Cell Carcinoma

Women get almost twice as much protection as men among 3-cup a day drinkers - see video - Oct. 26, 2011


Senior Citizens Facing Melanoma Should Worry More About Their Health Than Their Age

Patients with lower muscle density had much higher rates of their cancer returning – regardless of the tumor size or patient's age - Aug. 30, 2011


Vitamin D Appears Linked With Risk of Skin Cancer, Although Relationship Complex

Study looked at vitamin D level in senior citizens with non-melanoma skin cancers - Aug. 15, 2011


Melanoma Skin Cancer a Chronic Disease Causing Long-Term Problems for Women

Women need additional care, including follow-up and possibly counseling to optimally cope with melanoma - Feb. 21, 2011

 

Financial Relief for Volkswagen Diesel Owners

You may be eligible for money damages if you owned or leased one of these VW, Porsche or Audi vehicles.

In the major scandal of 2015, Volkswagen cheated you and the world. They rigged diesel emission controls so you, nor regulators, would know how much pollution their cars were adding to our environment.

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Porsche Cayenne (2015)

Audi A6, A7, A8, Q5 Quattro (2016)

 

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