MELANOMA RESEARCH: What is Peter Mac doing about melanoma and skin cancer?

Peter Mac’s skin and melanoma researchers have made many exciting contributions to finding better, more effective treatments for skin cancers, particularly melanoma. Some recent breakthroughs include:

• Following the discovery of a rogue gene mutation that is responsible for melanoma occurring in about 50% of patients, BRAF, Peter Mac led a trial into a new highly selective drug called PLX4032. This drug targets and destroys BRAF, thus preventing melanoma from spreading. Results for patients on the clinical trial have been extremely positive.
• The problem with melanoma cells is that they have a remarkable ability to change their appearance, and are like moving targets. Our researchers are now seeking to find a way to stop cells changing before trying to kill them with single therapies, or to find multiple drugs that can kill all melanoma cells no matter what state they have switched to.

To continue this discovery work, more funding is needed for our researchers. Your support, whatever the amount, will help provide the tools and technologies so important to advancing understanding of how cancer works, and how best to fight it.

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Case Study:
Brendan was just 22 when he was diagnosed with melanoma in December 2008. He had just returned from travelling overseas. He’d noticed that the birthmark on his right temple had started changing colour and his UK girlfriend had pestered him to get it checked out. After two biopsies, the melanoma was surgically removed at a clinic. Soon after, Brendan noticed a lump above his ear – the cancer had spread. A scan showed a 5mm tumour on his brain and his doctor put an end to his football. The loss of his love for playing sport and the news of the tumour was tough for Brendan to accept. He began attending radiotherapy sessions and his girlfriend flew back from UK, when she heard the news.

Brendan said the most challenging part of his experience was facing a grim future at 22. He found it hard to deal with the harsh reality that his melanoma was caused by his own desire to look tanned throughout his teens. He knew about skin cancer but never thought it would happen to him.

Brendan was accepted into the BRAF clinical trial at Peter Mac and is showing great progress. He has regained strength and returned to full time work. He also got married in 2010 and has hope for the future.

Brendan’s story also appeared in 60 minutes in 2009 – you can view the episode at:

A fundraising summary…
“It’s a scary thing, having cancer.” 22 year-old Brendan’s future was looking grim. He had been diagnosed with a late stage melanoma that had spread to his primary organs, and he was running out of treatment options.

Today, thanks to Peter Mac researchers like Dr Grant McArthur, and supporters like you, Brendan has been given a second chance through a ground-breaking clinical trial. Like so many other people with cancer, Brendan has been given hope and life through research undertaken at Peter Mac.

Your support will help ensure other cancer patients can benefit from the ideas that are changing the way we treat this disease.