Melanoma

Investigator: Joshua Labaer, M.D., Ph.D.

Collaborators: Jeffrey Trent, Ph.D. and Aleksandar Sekulic, M.D., Ph.D. (TGen)

Our Approach

Out of all skin cancer, melanoma is both the rarest, accounting for only 4% of skin cancers, and the most deadly, resulting in 80% of skin cancer-related deaths. Recently, activating mutations in a protein called BRAF (V600E) have been found in ~60% of all melanomas. A drug (Vemurafenib) targeting mutant BRAF has increased overall survival of these patients, and is currently the standard of care for mutant BRAF melanoma. Even with this "miracle" drug, 40% of melanomas do not have this mutation and continue to be a challenge to treat.

In response to this challenge, Stand Up to Cancer, the Melanoma Research Alliance and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) awarded Dr. LaBaer, along with Dr. Deidre Meldrum from the Biodesign Institute, and researchers at T-Gen, the Mayo Clinic, and several other world-class institutions a 6 million dollar translational research grant to create the Melanoma “Dream Team”. This collaborative project, one of only 6 nationally funded Dream Team awards, will combine the efforts of physicians and scientists to identify targeted therapies for a particularly deadly type of melanoma called BRAF Wild-Type.