About 60,000 new cases of malignant melanoma arise each year in the U.S. and 8000 people succumb to metastatic disease. Current melanoma therapies are ineffective, other than in small undefined subsets of patients. This suggests that there may be biologically distinct melanoma subtypes, and indicates the potential for targeted therapies.
The APCR-Melanoma Biomarker Group Collaboration aims to identify the characteristics of subtypes that are most malignant using techniques like those employed by the APCR-Core. The melanoma group brings considerable experience in translating research into clinical trials and contains molecular and cellular research expertise designed to provide rapid identification, development, and validation of melanoma markers, for eventual use as prognostic markers, and hopefully as targets for therapies.
The APCR Melanoma Adoptive Cell Transfer Group Collaboration is based on a recent Surgery Branch, National Cancer Institute protocol where patients with metastatic melanoma were transiently depleted of resident immune cells with a standard chemotherapy just prior to receiving their cultured, tumor-reactive tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and IL-2. In this study, 49% of 43 treated patients had major tumor regressions. In this collaboration the Surgery Branch, NCI will function as a lead center involved in disseminating their findings and allow a consortium of other centers to develop expertise and then contribute in novel and collaborative ways. The goal of this collaboration is to determine if this treatment can be exported to these other institutions and if the dramatic initial results seen can be confirmed by others.
The APCR Melanoma Program was established under the guidance of the late Dr. Donald Morton. Dr. Morton was not only an accomplished surgical oncologist, but also a renowned clinical scientist whose fundamental discoveries during the last 30 years profoundly changed the treatment of human cancer.