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Press Release

Combo Therapies Tested to Overcome Drug Resistance in Melanoma Patients

Posted Date: 8/1/2011

About 50 to 60 percent of patients with melanoma have a mutation in the BRAF gene that drives the growth of their cancer. Most of these patients respond well to two novel agents being studied in clinical trials that inhibit the gene, with remarkable responses that are, unfortunately, almost always limited in duration.

In a study published today as a Priority Report in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Research, scientists at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center tested a combination of small molecules that may, when used with the BRAF inhibitors, help overcome this drug resistance and extend the lives of those with advanced melanoma.

The team, led by researcher Dr. Roger Lo, focused on testing only small molecules that are already being studied in various phases of clinical trials in the hope of developing a combination treatment that can be studied in patients much more quickly than compounds that aren’t yet being tested in humans. Read more

Press Release

Melanomas acquire resistance to B-RAF (V600E) inhibition by RTK or N-RAS upregulation

Posted Date: 12/26/2010

The New York Times features melanoma research by Dr. Lo and Dr. Ribas of the University of California, Los Angeles, Cancer Center, funded by the Joint Center for Translational Medicine. Read more

Press Release

Researchers Discover Drug Resistance Mechanism in Most Common Form of Melanoma

Posted Date: 11/24/2010

RibasRoger Lo

Researchers with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that melanoma patients whose cancers are caused by mutation of the BRAF gene become resistant to a promising targeted treatment through another genetic mutation, or the overexpression of a cell surface protein, both driving survival of the cancer and accounting for relapse.

The study, published Nov. 24, 2010, in the early online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Nature, could result in the development of new targeted therapies to fight resistance once the patient stops responding and the cancer begins to grow again, said Dr. Roger Lo, senior author of the study.

In a clinical trial at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and other locations, patients with BRAF-mutated metastatic melanoma have been responding very well to an experimental drug, PLX4032. However, the responses are short lived, averaging seven to nine months in duration, because the cancer gets around the blockade put up by PLX4032, which targets the BRAF mutation found in 50 to 60 percent of melanoma patients. Read more

Press Release

Scientists Create an Army of Tumor-Fighting Immune Cells and Watch as They Seek Out, Kill Cancers

Posted Date: 7/13/2010

Ribas

Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center created a large, well armed battalion of tumor-seeking immune system cells and watched, in real time using Positron Emission Tomography (PET), as the special forces traveled throughout the body to locate and attack dangerous melanomas.

The gene therapy work, done with melanomas grown in mice, employed a crippled HIV-like virus to serve as a vehicle to arm the lymphocytes with T cell receptors, which caused the lymphocytes to become specific killers of cancerous cells. A reporter gene, which glows “hot” during PET scanning, also was inserted into the cells so researchers could track the genetically engineered lymphocytes after they were injected into the blood stream, made their way to the lungs and lymph nodes and then specifically homed in on the tumors wherever they were located within the body. Read more

Press Release

Caltech, UCLA Launch Joint Center for Translational Medicine

Broad Foundation gift will help guide new research toward clinical applications

Pasadena and Westwood, Calif.-The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have announced the establishment of the Joint Center for Translational Medicine (JCTM), which will advance experimental research into clinical applications, including the diagnosis and therapy of diseases such as cancer.

Initial funding for the new center comes from a two-year, $5 million gift from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

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