Melanoma Stem Cell

Funding Type: 
Disease Team Planning
Grant Number: 
DT1-00693
Investigator: 
ICOC Funds Committed: 
$0
Public Abstract: 
It is probable that there is no human cancer as aggressive as melanoma. It is among a handful of cancers whose dimensions are reported in millimeters. Tumor thickness approaching 4 mm present a high risk of metastasis, and a diagnosis of metastatic melanoma carries with it an abysmal median survival of 6-9 months. Available data supports the presence of melanoma stem cell, which are believed to be the most potent cells that impact melanoma development and metastasis. This program will define the unique features that acquire melanoma stem cells with the ability to dictate the phenotypes associated with malignant melanoma, and which distinguish them from the rest of the tumor, as from non malignant cells. The ability to distinguish between these cell populations will allow us to develop new means to detect and monitor the presence of melanoma stem cells, thereby allowing us to develop new diagnostic and means to follow up efficiency of tumor therapy. The knowledge that will be gained by comprehensive genetic and epigenetic analysis of the melanoma stem cells is also expected to result in the identification of novel targets for selective treatment of the melanoma stem cell population. In as much, our proposed studies will provide us with new tools to detect as well as to treat select populations of cells which are thought to be the most important in affecting melanoma development and metastasis. Since melanoma is malignant tumor which lacks efficient therapy as well as sensitive monitoring of its metastasis, our program is expected to have a major impact on diagnostic and new treatment modalities of this tumor type. To assure success of our program, we will combine the strongest forces in the field of melanoma biology in California, with the aid of leading experts from out of the state, thereby establishing an unprecedented effort for the characterization of melanoma stem cells, with implications to its monitoring and treatment.
Statement of Benefit to California: 
Every year over 7000 Californians are diagnosed with malignant melanoma. While this tumor can be removed by a relatively simple surgery, in many cases this tumor also spreads to different organs resulting in metastatic melanoma that, at present, lacks effective treatment. In fact, no other human cancer is known to be as aggressive as melanoma. It is among a handful of cancers whose dimensions are reported in millimeters. Tumor thickness approaching 4 mm presents a high risk of metastasis, and a diagnosis of metastatic melanoma carries with it an abysmal median survival rate of 6-9 months. Our proposed program offers an unprecedented opportunity to identify new markers for detection and monitoring of melanoma, and of novel targets that will be used for its treatment. This will be accomplished through the isolation and characterization of melanoma stem cells, the driving engine for melanoma development and metastatic capacity. A team of about 15 senior scientists, most of whom are located {REDACTED} and {REDACTED}, will combine diverse expertise in the genetics and epigentics of melanoma, using biochemical, cell biological approaches. Complemented by the use of novel mouse models our studies will be translated into clinical trials to successfully create new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for the treatment of this devastating disease. California will be recognized Nationally and Internationally for scientific and clinical breakthroughs we expect to achieve through our proposed studies. Clinical trials will be first offered for patients in California, thereby offering immediate advantage to state residences. We expect that California based pharmaceutical companies will be also first to benefit from projected outcomes, thereby fostering local economics. Paving the road for novel diagnostic and therapeutic means require integrated efforts by team of Californian experts and the support by CIRM.

© 2013 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine