Melanoma breakthrough paves way for personalised treatment for all cancer patients
14 February 2019
Australian researchers have for the first time identified specific cells and receptors in the immune system which predict how a patient will respond to treatment with immunotherapies, potentially paving the way for the development of personalised therapy for all cancer patients.
The groundbreaking research, published in Cancer Cell by a team of researchers from Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA), identifies markers of response and resistance in metastatic melanoma patients.
Co-Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia, Professor Georgina Long, said the findings have the potential to revolutionalise how treatment is delivered for all cancer patients.
‘Immunotherapy is the new frontier of melanoma treatment, and whilst it has had astounding results for patients who respond, there has been a subset of patients who are resistant to the treatment,’ Professor Long said.
‘Being able to identify the immune markers of response takes out the guess work, and allows us to be proactive in providing the right drug treatment for the right patients. This has the potential to revolutionise how all cancers are treated around the world.’
The Melanoma Institute Australia team, led by PhD student Tuba Nur Gide and postdoctoral scientists Camelia Quek and James Wilmott, performed immune profiling on 158 tumour biopsies from melanoma patients treated with anti-PD-1 monotherapy or combined anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 therapy.
They found that genes involving immune memory and activation were higher in responders to immunotherapy, whereas non-responders showed higher levels of genes related to tumour adaptation and cancer cell survival.
Examining more closely the immune cells in the tumours of responders, a specific sub-type of T-cell was found to be correlated with response and survival. Patients with this immune cell had significant shrinkage of their tumours, and longer progression-free survival .
Non-responding patients were found to lie in two distinct groups – one that can possibly benefit from other available treatment combinations, and another that requires more research into novel treatment strategies. The first group were seen to have several other potential therapeutic targets, possibly leading to the development of individualised immunotherapy for selected patients.
‘In addition to knowing up front which patients are likely to respond to current immunotherapy treatments, these findings will also enable us to focus research efforts on developing new therapies targeting the biological markers identified in current non-responders,’ Professor Long added.
‘The result will be personalised immunotherapy treatment for all patients, based not on their type of cancer, but based on their tumour’s unique biology.’
The study is the largest dataset of patients treated with anti-PD-1-based therapies to be published to date, and this data is now available for use by researchers and clinicians internationally.
Join in the fun of the virtual event, and together we can run over melanoma!
Melanoma Institute Australia features prominently in the latest ‘Expertise in Melanoma’ world rankings, released by Expertscape.
Participate in our online survey and help us understand the support needs of melanoma patients and carers.
Clinicians and their patients now have access to three online risk calculators developed by researchers at Melanoma Institute Australia.
MIA's Co-Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer has received The University of Sydney Alumni Award for International Achievement.
More than 120 MIA clinicians, researchers and staff came together online to share research highlights.
For the 2nd consecutive year, MIA's Co-Medical Director Professor Richard Scolyer has been selected in the top 100 best, brightest, and most powerful advocates of pathology by The Pathologist.
As of Monday 27th July all patients and carers/family members coming into The Poche Centre will be required to bring their own mask.
In a recent issue of Cancer Cell journal, Prof Georgina Long AO and Prof Richard Scolyer discuss the challenge of bringing together clinical work and scientific research to underpin successful cancer research.
Clinicians around the world now have access to a new online calculator that predicts the risk that a patient’s primary melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Professor Long has been appointed as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia (General Division) for distinguished service to medicine, particularly, to melanoma clinical and translational research, and to professional medical societies.
“I had a complete response within about six months. All of my tumours disappeared."
‘We are extremely proud of our ongoing contribution to the global effort to save lives from melanoma, with Dr Silva’s prestigious award proof that we continue to lead the way,'
MIA's Co-Medical Director, Professor Richard Scolyer, has achieved a Google Scholar h-index of 100.
We know what Melanoma March means to our community, so when we had to cancel our physical events, we created Melanoma March Virtual so that everyone across Australia could still connect to honour loved ones and support each other.
A must-read personal account by Garry Maddox in The Sydney Morning Herald of how immunotherapy is revolutionising melanoma treatment.
On Friday, a publication that lays out the steps needed to find out if a systematic screening program for melanoma would benefit all Australians was published in the Australia & New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
Melanoma March events have been cancelled. A Virtual March will be held on Sunday 29th March. Read this statement from MIA CEO Matthew Browne.
Thank you to the thousands of Aussies who bought ‘Game On Mole‘ t-shirts, took selfies, shared t-shirt pics on social media and started lifesaving conversations around sun safety and skin health.