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.
Australian television presenter, interior designer and mother Kyly Clarke has been announced as the new Ambassador for Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and its national awareness and fundraising campaign Melanoma March.
Melanoma Institute Australia has recently partnered with three other organisations to boost support for melanoma patients and their carers across Australia.
Melanoma patients and their families across Western Australia will benefit from strengthened and expanded services with the merging of melanomaWA and Melanoma Institute Australia.
Australian researchers have played a critical role in the discovery of a potential new test to predict which early stage melanoma patients are at high risk of their disease recurring and progressing.
We are extremely grateful for our community fundraisers, who, even in this difficult time, have given up their time and effort to fundraise so we can continue to work towards our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.
Melanoma patients are set to benefit from subsidised access to immunotherapy treatment for high risk early-stage and advanced-stage melanoma patients.
An informative article on how immunotherapy is revolutionising cancer treatment, written by Jill Margo and featured in the Australian Financial Review.
Melanoma patients and their families in the Riverina will benefit from strengthened and sustained melanoma services with the merger of the Amie St Clair Melanoma Trust and Melanoma Institute Australia.
Belmont High School at Lake Macquarie has been announced winner of the 2019 SunSafe Student Ambassador Program video competition.
It’s time again to say thank you to our amazing community fundraisers!
Videos of the sessions at the recent Patient Information Evening co-hosted by Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) are now available for viewing.
MIA is well-represented in the poster sessions at the Society for Melanoma Research 2019 Congress in the USA, with four poster presentations being given by members of our translational research lab.
Professor Georgina Long has today opened the Society for Melanoma Research 2019 Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah.
MIA’s Co-Medical Directors, Professor Georgina Long and Professor Richard Scolyer, have both been named Highly Cited Researchers, according to the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers 2019 list.
Melanoma Patients Australia (MPA) and Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) have announced a new multi-year agreement to provide enhanced support services for melanoma patients nationally.
It is time again to say thank you to our incredible community fundraisers who are helping us get closer to our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.
MIA has presented promising data regarding progression-free survival rates for advanced melanoma patients at the ESMO 2019 Congress in Barcelona.
Another month has flown by and yet again we have a host of amazing community fundraisers who generously gave up their time to help us reach our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.
Comments in favour of giving patients with BRAF-positive melanoma access to first-line immunotherapy need to be submitted online prior to October 9, 2019.