Young researchers receive boost to develop innovative treatment for melanoma
4 March 2021
Melanoma research has received a boost with two researchers from Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and The University of Sydney awarded highly competitive fellowships from Cancer Institute NSW.
Dr Tuba Nur Gide and Dr Camelia Quek were each awarded an Early Career Fellowship to support their innovative research into melanoma treatment. The Fellowships are designed to encourage promising early career researchers who recently completed their PhD to choose cancer as their selected field of research endeavor.
“It is deeply rewarding to see these two talented young researchers receive these prestigious Fellowships,” said Prof Richard Scolyer, Co-Medical Director of MIA. “Their dedication and passion for developing more effective treatments for patients is inspiring and we are proud to have them as part of our team.”
While immunotherapy is proving effective in treating many advanced melanoma patients, others either don’t respond or develop resistance. These treatments can also cause significant, life-altering side-effects. Dr Nur Guide and Dr Quek are trying to identify which patients will respond to treatment and why, as this is essential to improving survival and quality of life for advanced melanoma patients around the world.
Prof Georgina Long AO, Co-Medical Director of MIA, is delighted that Dr Nur Guide and Dr Quek have received funding to pursue their research endeavors.
“Supporting medical research into Australia’s national cancer is vital to improving care for melanoma patients,” commented Prof Long. “With Australia at the forefront of global melanoma research efforts, it is exciting that our early career researchers will have the support they need to pioneer new treatments to improve the lives of melanoma patients.”
There are currently no effective tests to determine which patients will respond to immunotherapy and which will need another treatment to stop their melanoma progressing. Dr Nur Gide’s research project is investigating this by assessing the accuracy of a panel of predictive tests with the aim of taking this out of the lab and into the everyday clinic setting.
“Once a patient enters a clinic, in real time we will be able to determine if they are likely to respond to treatment,” said Dr Nur Gide. “This will allow patients to avoid unnecessary toxicities and limit costs to patients and the healthcare system, as well as ultimately improving survival outcomes.”
The research project will help change the way cancer patients are treated and selected for clinical trials, by moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach and towards a precision approach to delivering effective immunotherapies on a personal basis.
“It is a great honour to have been awarded the CINSW Early Career Fellowship,” said Dr Nur Gide. “It will allow me to continue conducting research that will positively impact the lives of patients with advanced cancer and contribute to achieving our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.”
Understanding resistance to immunotherapy
Dr Camelia Quek’s research is trying to understand why some people with advanced melanoma become resistant to immunotherapy after they receive treatment. She is investigating the relatively new concept that a tumour and the microenvironment around it can evolve, causing resistance to immunotherapy. She will be using innovative computational biology methods to identify which genes and proteins involved in immune control are altered.
“Ultimately my research will provide significant benefits in developing innovative drug combination strategies and novel therapeutic targets to improve treatment for melanoma patients,” commented Dr Quek. “This will improve survival for patients, as well as improve their quality of life.”
“This fellowship will provide a fantastic opportunity for me to continue making discoveries that enable the development of innovative treatment strategies and biomarkers, ensuring the prolonged survival of Australians with cancer,” she said.
The 2021 Australasian Melanoma Conference (AMC2021) will held in Sydney, Australia.
A re-cap of the wonderful, and often very creative, community fundraising initiatives over the April to June quarter.
Our patients who donate their tissue samples and records to our research are helping to make a difference to the lives of future melanoma patients.
MIA researchers have recently been awarded two competitive funding grants, which will help facilitate their ground-breaking work in melanoma research.
Melanoma survivor Matt Kean is doing a 1000km bike ride around the Riverina this October, to increase awareness of melanoma and raise funds for Amie St Clair Melanoma - MIA. There are many ways you can be part of this life-changing ride!
Celebrate the 10th anniversary of Amie St Clair Melanoma at the Annual Ball in Wagga Wagga!
Riverina patients gain access to potentially life saving immunotherapy treatment close to home.
MIA's Prof Scolyer has been appointed as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia.
In a breakthrough which could extend to the treatment of other cancers, a new immune checkpoint inhibitor has proven effective in helping save the lives of advanced melanoma patients.
Whilst our research and clinical teams are trialling new treatments to save lives, it is our nurses who are on the front line providing care and support.
The easing of COVID restrictions has meant the return of community events, and we recognise the generous support of our community fundraisers.
Melanoma patients and their carers are being urged to participate in a ground-breaking survey which will shape the future of melanoma treatment, research, support and funding in Australia.
We have been buoyed by the wonderful support for our Melanoma March campaign, and our mission to cover Australia in footprints continues into April!
There was a wonderful feeling of community support amongst the melanoma patients, families and friends at the WA Melanoma Community Form.
The Price family has decided to share their story to inspire Australians to support research into new melanoma treatments.
New research has provided evidence in favour of a structured skin surveillance program for high-risk melanoma patients.
Melanoma research saved Bert's life at 101 and now he wants to give back.
A new MIA online risk calculator for clinicians can determine the likelihood of thin melanoma spreading.