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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences 

UPCI Melanoma Researchers Present Findings at Annual Meeting of American Society of Clinical Oncology

CHICAGO, June 5, 2010 – Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) Melanoma Program, led by John M. Kirkwood, M.D., will present findings from seven studies at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, June 4 to 8, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Highlights of their findings include:

Randomized Phase II Trial of Sorafenib with Temsirolimus or Tipifarnib in Metastatic Melanoma

Sponsored by the Southwest Oncology Group

Researchers continue to seek effective treatment options for advanced melanoma patients. This randomized, phase II trial compared a combination of chemotherapies designed for patients with genetic mutations that cause cancer cells to resist treatment. The combination of sorafenib with temsirolimus or tipifarnib did not improve disease response, but researchers believe that newer, molecularly targeted approaches and combinations still hold the greatest promise for future treatments.

Abstract 8502

First Report of a Randomized Phase II Trial of a Multi-Epitope Vaccination with Melanoma Peptides for Cytotoxic T-cells and Helper T-cells in Patients with Advanced Melanoma

Sponsored by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG)

This trial evaluated whether a novel vaccine comprised of a large number of components, including antigens, could boost the immune system of melanoma patients with advanced disease. According to study results, the tumor responses induced by the newly tested combinations of antigens did not yield improved clinical responses for patients, although there was a trend toward improved clinical tumor responses among those patients who had the best immune responses to the broader-spectrum vaccine.

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Oral Abstract Session

Phase II Trial of Dasatinib in Patients with Advanced Melanoma

Sponsored by ECOG

Pre-clinical studies show that a specific gene mutation may increase chemotherapy resistance in certain melanoma patients. This study reports the developing approach of a new targeted therapy aimed at a mutation of the gene known as CKIT, which is associated with melanomas of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet where solar radiation does not play a recognized role. It is hoped that this trial, which tests a new molecular inhibitor (dasatinib) of mutated CKIT, will cause antitumor effects in melanomas with this gene mutation.

Abstract TPS312

Phase II Trial of Tremelimunab Combined with High-Dose Interferon alpha-2b for Metastatic Melanomas

Sponsored by UPCI

Previous research has demonstrated clinical anti-tumor benefit with the drug tremelimunab as a single agent, as well as with high-dose interferon, although the benefit of each treatment was less than desired in patients with advanced melanoma. This trial for the first time combined the two treatments to determine whether the combination might improve clinical benefits for patients. According to the results, the combination can be administered safely and shows greater effectiveness than has been observed with either agent alone. The observation that the clinical benefit of this combination was associated with the induction of immunological reactions (autoimmunity) and with biomarkers such as CRP in the blood now offers the opportunity to develop new, more efficient trials aimed at patients most likely to respond to this treatment.

Abstract 8524

Melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer, but it causes the majority of skin cancer-related deaths. Each year, approximately 160,000 new cases are diagnosed worldwide. Surgery is effective and curative at early stages, but not at later stages, which result in 8,800 deaths a year in the U.S.

About University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

As the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania, UPCI is a recognized leader in providing innovative cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment; bio-medical research; compassionate patient care and support; and community-based outreach services. UPCI investigators are world-renowned for their work in clinical and basic cancer research.

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