M. D. Anderson receives SPORE grant for melanoma research

HOUSTON - The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has been awarded by the National Cancer Institute its ninth SPORE grant - the first such grant ever awarded exclusively for melanoma research.

The five-year, $11.5 million Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant acknowledges M. D. Anderson's leading translational research program. With the addition of the new grant, M. D. Anderson now holds a total of nine SPOREs - more than any other institution - and continues to rank first nationwide in the number of research grants and grant dollars received from the NCI.

Elizabeth Grimm, Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Experimental Therapeutics, is the director of the latest SPORE grant, which will give a boost to the institution's integrated melanoma research activities. Jeffrey E. Lee, M.D., professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology and a surgeon specializing in melanoma, is the grant's co-director.

"Melanoma in its most advanced form is as deadly as brain, lung and pancreatic cancers, with 80 percent of patients dying within five years. To date, therapies approved to treat metastatic disease have all been biologic, also known as immunotherapies. Still, we are only seeing survival past five years in less than 10 percent of patients. These therapies are offering a hint, but it's not the answer," says Grimm, who has been studying melanoma and its reaction to immunotherapy for years.

"With the melanoma SPORE, we hope to make a difference in the lives of those patients with the disease and develop means to control the tumor so that it does not progress, allowing patients to live with their cancer," she continues. "We intend to look at new biologic agents and new ways of modulating the immune response, in part, but to also look at things we can alter that inhibit the immune response and inhibit response to chemotherapy, because melanoma is so resistant to chemotherapy."


Contact: Laura Sussman
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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