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Another Melanoma Vaccine Contender

Another Melanoma Vaccine Contender | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Targeting melanomas with our own immune systems sounds like a great idea, but so far reality hasn't matched expectations, with a number of high-profile vaccines recently failing to deliver in clinical trials. But pharmaceutical companies are still trying, because the payoff would be huge for a general melanoma vaccine that works across subtypes, avoiding the need for costly genetic tests. One of the latest contenders is POL-103A, an immune system booster that contains proteins shed from three melanoma cell lines. Developed by Polynoma/CK Life Sciences, this vaccine may help people particularly at risk of melanoma recurrence. If clinical trials continue to uphold its promise, it could launch in 2017.

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Medical News Today│Sep 25, 2013

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Outsmarting Drug Resistance in Melanomas

Melanomas commonly stop responding to targeted therapies and a new study helps explain why. The researchers linked resistance to BRAF and MEK inhibitors in people with two genetic abnormalities: extra copies of BRAF-V600E, the most common melanoma mutation, as well as a new mutation called MEK2-Q60P. Encouragingly, the researchers also found that adding a third treatment (a PI3K inhibitor) to the mix makes melanomas stop growing in mice. While the team cautions that the solution is unlikely to be as simple of a triple inhibitor treatment for people, this work could help researchers find ways of overcoming drug resistance in melanomas.

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Cell Reports│Sep 19, 2013

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New Gene Linked to Melanoma in Mice

New Gene Linked to Melanoma in Mice | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A new study shows that a gene involved in pancreatic cancer may also play a role in melanoma. The researchers found that when mice lack a gene called PDK1, their melanomas are smaller and less likely to spread. These mice also live longer. Likewise, when mice that have this gene are treated with a PDK1 inhibitor, melanomas are slower to form and hardly ever spread. If this gene is also linked to melanoma in people, it could provide a new target for treating this cancer.

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EurekAlert│Sep 16, 2013

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Cancer Genetics Study Logs 5,000th Tumor Profile, Expands Scope

Cancer Genetics Study Logs 5,000th Tumor Profile, Expands Scope | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A major ongoing cancer genetics study has completed its 5,000th tumor profile. Patients at several major cancer treatment centers are offered the option of having the genetic profiles of their tumor samples recorded in a database for cancer researchers. The data is used in numerous studies investigating the genetic origins of cancer and potential new targeted treatments. The study, known as Profile, is now also adding data from childhood cancers. Additionally, it is transitioning to next-generation DNA analysis technology, which allows researchers to analyze more genes, more quickly. Instead of only scanning for known mutations, the new technology can also detect previously unknown DNA alterations, raising the number of measurable mutations from 471 to potentially millions.

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Medical Xpress | Sep 12, 2013

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Medical Xpress | Sep 12, 2013

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Medical Xpress | Sep 12, 2013

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Making Melanomas Eat Themselves

Making Melanomas Eat Themselves | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Compared to normal moles, melanomas have low levels of a protein that may protect against cancer. The protein is called ATG5, and is linked to a process called autophagy that lets abnormal cells 'eat' themselves. In a new study that followed 158 people with melanomas that had not spread, tumors with low levels of ATG5 were more likely to get worse. The researchers also found that, when they added the gene most commonly mutated in melanomas (BRAF) to melanocytes grown in the lab, this normally made these cells eat themselves. However, decreasing ATG5 made these melanoma-like cells divide instead. These findings suggest that increasing ATG5 in early melanomas could make them eat themselves.


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Medical Xpress│Sep 12, 2013

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U.S. Government Report Outlines Serious Future Challenges in Cancer Care

U.S. Government Report Outlines Serious Future Challenges in Cancer Care | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A report by a U.S. government panel of experts warns of upcoming profound challenges in cancer care. The aging population means the number of cancer cases is growing, and there may not be enough oncologists (cancer specialists) to care for all of them. While research has yielded new insights and produced innovative cancer treatments, better strategies are needed to ensure doctors can keep up with the many complex new medications. Medical professionals also need to develop easy-to-understand ways to communicate information to cancer patients, who are still often misinformed about their illness and treatment options. The report includes a list of questions patients should ask to ensure that they make informed choices about their care.

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Associated Press | Sep 10, 2013

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Associated Press | Sep 10, 2013

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Associated Press | Sep 10, 2013

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New Targets for Melanoma Immunotherapies

Seven new genes have been linked to melanoma, say researchers at the National Cancer Institute, providing potential targets for antitumor immunotherapy drugs. These genes are overexpressed in melanomas, but are hardly active in normal tissue, so targeting them should have minimal side effects. Two of the genes are specific to melanoma (CSPG4 and SOX10), while the remaining five are in a well-known family of cancer genes (CSAG2, IL13RA2, MAGEA3, MAGEC2, and PRAME). The researchers hope to engineer people's immune cells to recognize these targets and kill melanoma cells, a strategy that is currently being tested in clinical trials for other types of cancer. In addition, the researchers are extending their search for immunotherapy targets to pancreatic cancer.

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American Association for Cancer Research│Sep 10, 2013

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Melanoma Vaccine Fizzles in Phase III Trial

Melanoma Vaccine Fizzles in Phase III Trial | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

New results from an ongoing clinical trial suggest that an experimental vaccine may not keep melanomas from coming back after all. The vaccine targets tumors that express a gene called MAGE-A3, which is active in 65% of melanomas that have begun to spread. However, researchers will continue the phase III trial because even though this treatment does not work on melanomas broadly, it could still control a tumor subtype with a particular mutation. The results of the continued study are expected in 2015. In addition, the MAGE-A3 vaccine is being tested against non-small cell lung cancer in another phase III trial, and initial findings are expected in 2014.

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Reuters│Sep 5, 2013

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Taking the Groan Out of Groin Lymph Node Removal

Taking the Groan Out of Groin Lymph Node Removal | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

When melanomas spread to lymph nodes in the groin, that typically means major surgery—12-inch incisions from hip-to-thigh, 5 days in the hospital, and foot-long scars for life. But now surgeons can do it all laparoscopically, entailing three incisions that total less than 1 inch and just an overnight hospital stay. Tiny incisions also reduce the risk of postsurgery wound infections, which currently afflict half of people who undergo groin lymph node removal. A clinical trial is currently recruiting people with melanomas to test the new laparoscopic procedure.

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Medical Xpress│Aug 26, 2013

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How to Boost Melanoma Survival in Older People

New research from France may help explain why older people are less likely to survive melanoma. In a study of about 1,600 French individuals with melanomas that had not spread, researchers compared people who were older or younger than age 70 years. Melanomas in older people were three times more likely to be on the head and neck and nearly twice as likely to be thicker than 2 mm. In addition, older people were less likely to get regular skin exams and more likely to see general practitioners instead of dermatologists, which can compromise care — it took longer for older people to get their melanomas removed and the margins were less likely to be big enough to meet French guidelines. The researchers ask that general practitioners routinely give older people skin exams and then refer them to dermatologists as necessary.

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Reuters Health│Aug 21, 2013

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Reducing the Risk of Melanoma in Young Men

Reducing the Risk of Melanoma in Young Men | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Young men are 55% more likely to die of melanoma than young women, according to a recent study that followed more than 25,000 white adolescents and young adults with melanoma. About 95% of skin melanomas occur in non-Hispanic whites. The disparity between the sexes held across melanomas matched for thickness, suggesting a biological basis. But even so, young men can reduce their risk with sun protection and skin checks. Another large study suggested that using sunscreen regularly could cut the incidence of melanoma by half. In addition, men are less likely to get skin checks and young adults are less likely to go to doctors, period. Dermatologists recommend professional skin exams for people with changing moles or 'ugly duckling' moles, which don't match the others. Ugly duckling moles tend to grow up, can be small and uniform in color, and may bleed.

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The ASCO Post│Aug 15, 2013

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How to Control Other Cancers Caused by Targeted Treatments for Melanoma

While effective against melanomas with BRAF mutations, BRAF inhibitors can also cause other cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and RAS-mutant leukemia. In an overview of the field, researchers say that people treated with BRAF inhibitors may need long-term follow-ups. The researchers also suggest combining BRAF inhibitors with treatments that target the other cancers. These include MEK inhibitors, which control some but not all of the other cancers. In addition, people treated with BRAF inhibitors may need more aggressive screening if they have a family history of colorectal cancer.


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Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology│Aug 14, 2013

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Should Clinical Trial Requirements Be Relaxed for Certain Cancer Drugs?

Should Clinical Trial Requirements Be Relaxed for Certain Cancer Drugs? | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Broadly speaking, clinical trials are designed to demonstrate that a drug is safe (phase I), effective (phase II), and better than existing treatments (phase III). However, some drugs already show strong signs of superior effectiveness in phase I and II. A recent article argues for waiving the phase III trial requirement for such drugs, particularly for targeted cancer treatments directed at specific genetic mutations. This would save the enormous costs of these trials and avoid the possibility of the control groups in such trials possibly receiving less effective treatments. On the other hand, eliminating phase III trials would mean that a drug’s long-term effects would not be systematically investigated.

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Medical News Today | Aug 12, 2013

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Medical News Today | Aug 12, 2013

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Married Cancer Patients More Likely to Survive

Married Cancer Patients More Likely to Survive | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Married people are 20% less likely to die from cancer, a recent study found. Married patients were less likely to be diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease and more likely to undergo the best treatment plan for their disease state. Moreover, even at the same cancer stage and undergoing the same treatment, married patients were significantly less likely to die. For several cancers, including prostate and colorectal cancer, the effect of marriage on survival was greater than that of chemotherapy. Several factors may explain these findings. Spouses may remind each other to get regular medical check-ups and encourage each other to stick to their cancer treatments. Social support may also alleviate depression, lower stress, and strengthen the immune system.

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Los Angeles Times | Sep 24, 2013

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Los Angeles Times | Sep 24, 2013

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Los Angeles Times | Sep 24, 2013

Tambre Leighn's curator insight, October 14, 2013 2:35 PM

Great news...but what about those who are not married?  How can we turn these findings into tools to increase survival for more people, even if they are single? 

 

Looks like a lot of opportunity for technology based apps that support accountabilty for regular checkups (Keep a Breast Foundation (http://www.keep-a-breast.org/) has a great, free app that is a self-check reminder) and social media like Facebook and peer to peer organizations such as stupidcancer.com for Young Adults, Imerman Angels for survivors and caregivers to help overcome isolation.

 

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U.S. Cancer Experts' Report Emphasizes Successes, Need for More Funding

U.S. Cancer Experts' Report Emphasizes Successes, Need for More Funding | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

The fight against cancer has made “amazing progress,” according to the annual progress report of the American Association for Cancer Research. Thanks to advances in cancer prevention and treatment, death rates from malignant cancers in the U.S. have fallen 24.5% for men and 15.8% for women since 1990, resulting in an estimated 1 million lives saved. However, the aging population will result in a sharp increase in the number of people living with cancer, both in the U.S. and worldwide. The report therefore argues for increased funding for cancer research. A special highlight in the report focuses on cancer immunology, which utilizes the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, and which has made significant advances in recent years.

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Los Angeles Times | Sep 17, 2013

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Los Angeles Times | Sep 17, 2013

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Los Angeles Times | Sep 17, 2013

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Speedy Review for Melanoma Combo Treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted a priority review of whether two melanoma drugs work better together. The drugs are a BRAF inhibitor called Tafinlar (dabrafenib) and a MEK inhibitor called Mekinist (trametinib); both are already FDA-approved for use separately. Tumors, however, often become resistant to BRAF inhibitors, growing back after an initial period of shrinking. The hope is that adding a MEK inhibitor will prevent this resistance. The FDA's ruling on this combination targeted treatment is expected in January 2014.

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Reuters│Sep 16, 2013

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Another Disappointing Melanoma Vaccine

Another Disappointing Melanoma Vaccine | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Hopes have just been dashed that an experimental immunotherapy will keep melanomas from spreading. The vaccine contained GM2, a molecule that is common on the outside of melanoma cells but limited on healthy cells. Previous studies had shown that melanoma patients with antibodies against GM2 did better than those without. However, in a new study of 1,300 people with melanomas that had not yet spread, GM2 vaccination did not help and may actually have made things worse. The phase III clinical trial was stopped early because people who received the vaccine were 1.2% more likely to relapse and 2.1% less likely to survive.

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Medical Xpress│Sep 13, 2013

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Clinical Trial Evaluates Targeted Cancer Treatment in All Tumor Types

New drugs targeting specific molecular abnormalities in cancer patients have shown great promise in recent years. However, so far, no study has examined systematically whether such targeted therapies indeed produce better results overall than traditional treatment. The SHIVA trial is the first clinical trial comparing outcomes with targeted treatment based on molecular testing to those with conventional treatment across all tumor types. Patients with a variety of different persistent cancers are either treated with targeted therapies aimed at the molecular profile of their tumor or given standard chemotherapy based on the anatomical location of their tumor. Enrollment has begun in several cancer centers across France and preliminary results confirm the study design is indeed feasible.

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Science Codex | Sep 11, 2013

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Science Codex | Sep 11, 2013

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Science Codex | Sep 11, 2013

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T-Rays Could Reveal Nascent Melanomas

T-Rays Could Reveal Nascent Melanomas | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

The same imaging technology used at airport security checkpoints could also help us find melanomas that we can't see yet, according to research presented at the American Chemical Society's fall 2013 meeting. The technology uses terahertz rays (T-rays), which are the wavelengths between microwaves and the infrared rays that we feel as heat. In contrast to X-rays, T-rays are not ionizing and so are much safer, penetrating only a few millimeters into the skin. Melanomas start in the deepest part of the skin's outer layer, long before they appear on the surface as mole-like growths. Early results suggest that dermatologists could use T-rays to diagnose melanomas that are just beginning to form.

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 American Chemical Society│Sep 11, 2013

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New Vaccine Implants May Make Immune System Attack Melanomas

New Vaccine Implants May Make Immune System Attack Melanomas | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A phase I clinical trial has just begun for an experimental vaccine that shrinks melanomas in mice. The vaccine combines tumor proteins with an immune system booster. These active components are bound together with the material used to make dissolvable stitches, forming an aspirin-sized disk that is implanted under the skin. In a pre-clinical study, these dissolving vaccine implants completely eradicated melanomas in half of the mice treated. The new trial to test this treatment in people is currently accepting participants.

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Medical Xpress│Sep 6, 2013

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Will PV-10 Injections Shrink Melanomas in People, Too?

Will PV-10 Injections Shrink Melanomas in People, Too? | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A new phase I clinical trial is underway to see if an experimental melanoma treatment works as well in people as it does in mice. The treatment entails injecting tumors with PV-10. A previous study in mice showed that just one PV-10 injection was enough to  shrink melanomas. In addition, very early trials suggested that PV-10 boosts the immune system and the mouse study suggested that this treatment has fewer side effects than current immunotherapies. The new trial will assess whether PV-10 shrinks melanomas and keeps them from spreading in people, as well as whether PV-10 actually boosts the immune system. This trial is currently accepting participants.

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ASCO Post│Aug 28, 2013

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Why Melanoma Strikes Redheads

Why Melanoma Strikes Redheads | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

People with red hair and very fair skin are 10 to 100 times more likely to get melanoma—and new research pins this on a mutated protein. The normal protein, called MC1R, helps suppress tumors. But, in a lab, cells with the mutant protein divided abnormally fast after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is a risk factor for melanoma. This abnormal cell division is driven by a known cancer pathway, opening the way to developing targeted treatments for redheads with melanomas. Underscoring the urgency, the researchers found that this cancer pathway was even more active in cells with both the mutant 'redhead' protein and the BRAF mutation found in nearly 70% of melanomas.

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Medical Xpress│Aug 22, 2013

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How to Predict Who Will Benefit from BRAF Inhibitors

A new study suggests there may be a way to predict how well a targeted treatment will work against melanomas with BRAF mutations. This finding is from a phase II clinical trial that included 76 people with BRAF V600E mutated melanomas who were treated with dabrafenib, a BRAF inhibitor. Besides confirming the efficacy of dabrafenib, the study showed that the higher the initial level of tumor DNA in the blood, the better dabrafenib worked. That said, the researchers caution that this correlation must be confirmed in a larger study.

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CancerNetwork│Aug 18, 2013

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Researchers Identify Genetic 'Signatures' of Cancer Development

All cancers are driven by genetic mutations that develop in a person's body cells over her or his lifetime. However, what causes these mutations is still largely unknown. Now, researchers have released the findings of a large-scale study that sheds light on these processes. Investigators analyzed the genetic makeup of 30 common cancers in thousands of patients and identified 21 patterns of mutation, or 'signatures,' underlying cancer development. All cancer types had at least two signatures, and some had up to six, reflecting the multiple influences that contribute to cancer. The researchers also uncovered the biological processes behind many of these signatures, such as aging or enzymes involved in fighting off virus infections.

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Reuters | Aug 14, 2013

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Reuters | Aug 14, 2013

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Reuters | Aug 14, 2013

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Reuters | Aug 14, 2013

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New Recommendation for Melanomas with KIT Mutations

Thanks partly to a new study, national guidelines now include a targeted treatment for melanomas with mutated KIT genes. The drug, called imatinib, is already used for chronic myelogenous leukemia. In a phase II clinical trial that included 12 people with melanomas that had KIT mutations, imatinib shrank tumors in 77%. KIT abnormalities can also include too many copies of this gene, but the drug was not effective against these tumors. KIT mutations, which are relatively uncommon, can occur in mucus membranes, extremities such as fingers, and skin with chronic sun damage. Now that there is a recommended targeted treatment, the researchers advise testing such melanomas for KIT mutations.

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Journal of Clinical Oncology│Aug 10, 2013

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