Opinion: Fighting the Resistance
25 August 2016
Jane Cadzow’s Good Weekend feature quite rightly celebrates the advent of immunotherapies in cancer treatment and the results these are delivering for patients especially, but not only, in melanoma.
However, like a palimpsest there is another story underneath which must be revealed. This feature just touches on it: resistance. If immunotherapies have emerged as the promised land for cancer patients, then resistance is its border crossing. Currently, we have no way of knowing who will successfully make it across the border and why. These ‘wonder drugs’ only work for 70% of patients. The other 30% do not respond at all. Similarly, targeted therapies, which block the action of a particular mutated gene, work initially in 95% of patients but 70% will develop resistance over time.
Nowhere have immunotherapies demonstrated greater success than in treatment of advanced melanoma. Previously, melanoma was the cancer no one wanted to have because the only treatment was surgery and that only worked if diagnosed early. Today through our clinical trials program at Melanoma Institute Australia, we are achieving remarkable results with patients with advanced melanoma which has spread to other organs. Their one-year survival rate in 2011 was 25%. It is now 75%. Their two-year survival rate is over 50%. It used to be less than 15%.
The next frontier in cancer research is unlocking the mystery of resistance and how to overcome it, as well as developing the ability to accurately predict an individual’s response to therapies. The vast array of samples held in our BioSpecimen Bank, the largest in melanoma in the world, are enabling this research. Liquid biopsies are being developed with bloods as early predictors of therapeutic outcome. Tissue donated whilst on therapy is being used to examine both the tumour genome and its micro-environment to discover the drivers of resistance.
Resistance is the story in cancer today, and an even more significant narrative in other tumours than in melanoma. As drugs developed for melanoma are now leading the way, it is our aspiration that in short order it will be melanoma research which surmounts the obstacle of resistance to truly enable precision medicine for cancers: the right therapy for the right person, at the right time and in the right dose, so we really can claim cure.
Chief Executive Officer
Melanoma Institute Australia
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.
Melanoma patients now have greater access to subsidised immunotherapy thanks to additional treatments today being listed on the PBS.
Brisbane couple Leon and Tamra Betts were, like thousands of others around Australia, on the couch watching MAFS when newlywed Natasha ran through her weekly beauty routine. When they heard the 26-year-old mention solarium use, they were shocked, and then saddened, prompting this open letter to all young Australians.
Professor Richard Scolyer, Co-Medical Director of Melanoma Institute Australia, will welcome international attendees this weekend to a sold-out, two-day course on ‘Pigmented Lesions and Other Hot Topics in Dermatopathology’.
It is time for a reality check on solariums.
They have no place in anyone’s beauty routine.
Throughout January our community created, hosted and participated in some amazing events, each of them helping us on our quest to reach zero deaths from melanoma.
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.