Jun 11, 2012
Crump Institute researcher wins award for melanoma research
, associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology and a researcher at the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, received a 2012 Established Investigator Award from the Melanoma Research Alliance, the largest private funder of melanoma research.
The awards are given to researchers at leading academic research institutions around the world to develop improved means to prevent, detect and treat deadly skin cancer. An exciting advance in cancer therapies has been the development of drugs that specifically target the function of mutated genes called BRAF that are responsible for half of all melanoma cancers. Regression of tumors targeted by these drugs has been remarkable. Unfortunately, most patients develop drug resistance in less than a year. Graeber and his team are exploring why this is happening.
Cancer is a complex mix of interconnected events gone awry through mutations. The UCLA team is assessing how these events function together as a system to cause malignancy. The future of molecular therapies relies on targeting multiple events, thus making it more difficult for tumor cells to gain the numerous mutations required to escape a drug’s assault.
Graeber’s team is using technologies that concurrently gauge thousands of events in cancer cells to measure activity of signaling proteins that drive tumor cell growth and survival. The researchers hope to identify points of susceptibility to advance melanoma therapies and overcome the resistance mechanisms that currently limit BRAF inhibitor drugs.