The Dream Team, an all star line up of national melanoma experts, will receive $6 million over the next three years to investigate the use of individualized therapy for patients with BRAF Wild-Type (BRAFwt) metastatic melanoma, a deadly sub type of the disease for which there are currently few treatment options.
The study, which will involve nearly 50 scientists and 150 patients from more than a dozen cancer centers, universities and research institutes, will be headed by Dr. Jeffrey Trent, Ph.D., President and Research Director at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, and Dr. Patricia LoRusso, D.O., Director of the Eisenberg Center for Experimental Therapeutics at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
Dr Sekulic, who will be leading Mayo Clinic’s part of the team’s research efforts, says the study is unique in that this will be the first time personalized medicine will be applied to patients with advanced melanoma.
“The backbone of this research will be a clinical trial for patients with the BRAFwt melanoma. Each of these patients will have their tumors analyzed genomically,” said Dr Sekulic. “With the sequencing performed on these tumors, we will attempt to match available therapies against the defects found in those tumors,” he added.
Patients who develop metastatic melanoma (stage 4 disease) have a dismal prognosis, with a median historic survival of six to nine months and a five-year survival rate of 15 percent to 20 percent.
Dr. Sekulic anticipates patient accrual for the trial will begin in mid-2012 at Mayo Clinic’s sites in Arizona, Rochester and Jacksonville.