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Neutralising the threat of melanoma

  • Researcher: Dr Walter Fairlie
  • Institution: The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia
  • Award Amount: £199,490 for 3 years from March 2015
  • Cancer Type: Skin Cancer
Neutralising the threat of melanoma
Dr Fairlie is investigating a potentially new target for treating the aggressive skin cancer melanoma. Melanoma is one of the most difficult cancers to cure. Recent advances in the development of new targeted therapies often provide only small improvements in patient survival, as the cancer quickly becomes resistant. “There is an urgent need to identify new drug targets for the treatment of melanoma, and to understand why current treatment options usually fail,” says Dr Fairlie. Dr Fairlie and his team have developed a compound that specifically targets a protein, called Bfl-1, which is thought to be involved in melanoma progression and treatment resistance. “Our early data suggest that by ‘neutralising’ Bfl-1, this compound effectively kills melanoma cells- including some that do not respond to therapies currently used in the clinic.” “We now want to expand our studies using more melanoma cells from patients and mice. We will study in greater detail Bfl-1 driven melanoma, and whether Bfl-1 neutralisation can overcome treatment resistance. Our ultimate aim is to identify drug-like compounds that could potentially be used in the development of a new treatment option for melanoma.” “For me, I think this project is really exciting because malignant melanoma can be a particularly devastating disease, so any insights into its underlying cause could be important for the development of new treatment options for patients.”  
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