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Standing up to melanoma

BY ELIZABETH WHITTINGTON
PUBLISHED THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2011
With all the melanoma research news lately, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the current study results involving Yervoy (ipilumumab) and vemurafenib that were announced at ASCO.

However, these drugs only work in certain patients. While vemurafenib targets the BRAF mutation, which occurs in about half of melanomas, it still doesn't work for every patient -- even patients with melanomas that carry the specific BRAF mutation that is targeted.

At the American Association for Cancer Research, which was held back in April, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) announced the latest round of research grants, awarding nearly $10 million over three years to 13 early-career researchers who are pursuing "high-risk, potentially high-reward translational cancer research." (You can read more about the grants here.)

One of those grants, the Allan H. (Bud) and Sue Selig Stand Up To Cancer Melanoma Innovative Research Grant, was named in honor of Bud Selig, a melanoma survivor and Major League Baseball Commissioner. The recipient of the grant is a young investigator, Roger Lo, MD, PhD, from the University of California Los Angeles's Comprehensive Cancer Center, who is currently focusing on those BRAF-positive melanomas that are resistant to vemurafenib.

In addition, SU2C, partnering with the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), has committed to funding at least $6 million over a three-year period toward melanoma research.

Wendy K.D. Selig, MRA's president and CEO, said in a statement, "This exciting collaboration comes at the perfect moment in the trajectory of melanoma research a time when there is so much hope and optimism in the field about bringing better outcomes to patients and those at risk." (You can read Wendy Selig's guest blog on the future of melanoma research "The year of melanoma.")

This is just one example of how cancer research is staying one step ahead. Hopefully Lo can fulfill his hopes of "hitting a homerun" for Bud and others who are dealing with melanoma.

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