Women of MIA lead the way in melanoma research at SMR
31 October 2018
The Society for Melanoma Research championed women from all sectors of melanoma research at its International Congress in Manchester. Unsurprisingly, Melanoma Institute Australia had a strong contingent of women presenting at SMR, including our Co-Medical Director Professor Georgina Long who, in a double world first, took over as the first female and first Australian President of SMR.
The Congress opened with a keynote presentation from Associate Professor Jennifer Wargo from MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas, who spoke on the benefits of teamwork and collaboration in advancing melanoma therapy. During the mid-morning plenary session, Professor Long presented exciting results from the KEYNOTE-029 1B study.
MIA PhD student Tuba Nur Gide presented some pioneering research regarding signatures of response and resistance in patients receiving immunotherapy. Looking at the genes expressed in melanoma samples from MIA patients, she 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 survival. While examining the immune cells in the tumours of responders, a specific type of T-cell, was found to be a good predictor of response and survival. The study is one of the first to investigate this in the combination therapy cohort.
Poster presentations from a host of MIA’s finest female minds were also on display throughout the Congress. Dr. Jenny Lee presented her research on the use of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) as a predictive marker of relapse and survival. She found that the pre-surgery levels of ctDNA, fragments of DNA from tumour cells that are floating in the bloodstream, could predict survival in Stage III melanoma patients undergoing complete lymph-node dissections.
MIA’s 2018 Medical Oncology Fellow Carina Owen presented on delayed-onset toxicity from anti-PD-1 therapy to highlight the need for clinicians to understand the long-term follow-up requirements of melanoma patients. MIA Biospecimen Bank Manager Valerie Jakrot’s poster presentation detailed the Bank’s role in sample collection, handling, storage and management of neo-adjuvant tissue and blood samples and the associated data.
Dr. Inês da Silva, a clinical researcher working in both medical oncology clinics and the laboratory with Prof Long, had two poster presentations at SMR. In an international collaboration, she developed a model to predict response rate, progression-free survival, overall survival and toxicity for patients on anti-PD-1-based therapies. This model could have a significant impact on clinical care after further study, as it only relied on patient information and a routine blood test. Her second poster presented significant data showing that melanoma patients who develop liver metastases are less responsive to combined immunotherapy with anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 immunotherapy. She found that liver metastases reduce the activity of the immune system, and recommends further study to possibly unlock these mechanisms and discover new drug targets for these patients.
A ‘STEM for Women' initiative, designed to empower women in melanoma research, was also launched at the SMR Congress. Featuring interviews with Professor Long, Associate Professor Wargo and Valerie Jakrot, among other trailblazing women, it aims to advise, support and inspire women in the scientific community.
In the final plenary session, Professor Georgina Long discussed challenge of resistance to melanoma therapies with a ‘call to action’ for all researchers in the field. Her presentation rounded out a Congress which illuminated and emphasised the ground breaking work of female leaders in the melanoma field.
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.
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.