Earlier stage melanoma diagnosis advances with gift from Alliance Beverage

Earlier stage melanoma diagnosis advances with gift from Alliance Beverage

December 30, 2015

December 30, 2015

If you play golf, an already vexing game may throw another unexpected bogey---you may have an increased chance of getting skin cancer. Fred Couples has had numerous bouts with it, as has Hank Haney, Adam Scott and others.

Half of all melanoma deaths in the U.S. are in men over age 50 – and melanoma is one of only three cancers for which mortality in men is increasing. The American Cancer Society predicts there will be 1,400 new cases in Arizona this year alone.

Screening and early detection can detect nearly all melanomas at a curable stage, but an estimated 30 percent are misdiagnosed. Allowed to grow, melanoma can spread to can spread quickly – to the lymph nodes, lungs and other parts of the body. When it spreads, melanoma can be aggressive and deadly.

That’s why Arizona State University scientist Stephen Albert Johnston is determined to make early detection the rule, rather than the exception. Johnston is co-director of the ASU Biodesign Institute Center for Innovations in Medicine, based on the Tempe campus.

His partners in this endeavor are the employees of Alliance Beverage Distributing, who each year, select from hundreds of worthy causes. Alliance Beverage’s annual Charity Golf Classic has been raising funds for 28 years, distributing more than $2.3 million to local charities.

“ASU and cancer research are at the top of our list,” said Shawn Thurman, Alliance Beverage’s President. Sr. VP, Marketing and Community Affairs Tom King added, “We couldn’t be happier with our investment in Dr. Johnston’s research. To be able to have a $99 test for melanoma is a win for every one of us.”

Last year, Alliance made a similar donation that set Johnston on the road to discovery. Johnston searched the world over for the kind of blood samples he needed, eventually tracking down a study in England. After analyzing the 85 samples, Johnston found that it was possible to use his peptide array technology to identify the melanoma at least three months earlier than conventional methods.

This year’s donation from Alliance Beverage will enable him to verify the results and head toward making the tests commercially available.

“Their donation is catalytic,” said Johnston. “What this allows us to do is open up a new front in our studies; in this case, for early detection of melanoma – which would be much more difficult to get through traditional sources. This kind of money helps us get the resources; have a look at this as an area of investigation, and, if it is successful – which it looks like it is – expand into much bigger funding and much bigger studies.

Like many of the researchers at ASU’s Biodesign Institute, the scientists are highly committed to developing accessible and affordable solutions for disease and environmental toxins. Johnston expects that the simple one-drop-of-blood test will cost about $99 and will be ready to move into commercialization in 2017. The technology – known as immunosignaturing – also holds promise for detecting many other types of cancers and diseases.

We couldn’t do this kind of ‘hit-the-ground running work’ without the participation of generous people and organizations like Alliance Beverage Distributing and the Dorothy Foundation who understand the importance of early stage research,” said ASU Foundation Sr. Development Officer Eric Spicer. Currently, researchers at the Biodesign Institute alone are tracking on diagnoses, treatments and cures for some 92 different diseases including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, plagues, pneumonia, obesity and viruses.

Alliance Beverage became acquainted with the ASU Biodesign Institute through Fox10’s Sports Anchor Jude LaCava and the Dorothy Foundation, an organization that LaCava and his sister, Sandra LaCava, founded to honor their mother by accelerating progress toward cures for cancer.

“What I love about a local contribution is how it changes the local research and supports the great research at ASU Biodesign by Dr. Johnston. We all know if we can get to a cancer diagnosis pre-stage one, it is an absolute game-changer,” said LaCava. “And to do it right here in our backyard at ASU Biodesign is special because we know of the great minds and great science that is going on there/”

LaCava is a strong advocate for open science, an approach in which data and discoveries are made more widely available to patients and researchers in order to arrive at solutions more quickly.



A baseball hat isn’t enough.

  • The American Cancer Society recommends that people over 40 have a skin exam by your personal doctor or a dermatologist once per year.
  • People age 20-39 should have a skin exam every three years.
  • Watch for new or changing spots on the body. Set aside a few minutes each month to have someone look at your skin. Look for the ABCDE signs of melanoma: asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolution.
  • Pro golfer Rory McIlroy says to put on a moisturizer that includes a high SPF when you get out of the shower. He also recommends applying a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and with both UVA and UVB protection before and during a golf round.
  • Pro golfer Adam Scott, who recently battled melanoma says, “There’s a saying in Australia: “slip, slop, slap: Slip on a t-shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat."


About Alliance Beverage

Alliance Beverage Distributing Company is a full service, statewide distributor of alcoholic beverages. With the primary focus being the distribution, sales and marketing of alcoholic beverages to licensed retailers, Alliance Beverage has become the leading distributor of alcoholic beverages in the state of Arizona.https://alliancebeverage.com/

About the Dorothy Foundation

The Dorothy Foundation a 501(c) 3 was founded to re-inspire and achieve momentum in the fight against cancer. Our perspective is that after 35 years, we are not getting there fast enough. Our goal is to provide the most up to date information regarding cancer treatments and research, to inform those affected by cancer, and to support the most promising, innovative research in the field. http://www.dorothy-foundation.org

About the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University

The Biodesign Institute addresses today’s critical global challenges in health care, sustainability and security by developing solutions inspired from natural systems and translating those solutions into commercially viable products and clinical practices.www.biodesign.asu.edu