June 2013

Bringing Novel Melanoma Diagnostics Towards the Clinic

Mon, 10 June 13 10:28

University College Dublin will lead a €1.7M European project focused on bringing novel melanoma diagnostics towards the clinic

The European Seventh Framework Programme has announced funding for a four-year international research programme, SYS-MEL, centred on new diagnostics in the melanoma arena. Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and currently there are few effective therapies for later stages of the disease.

Led by University College Dublin (UCD), SYS-MEL will build on the foundations laid down by another EU-funded programme, Target-Melanoma, researching the hallmarks of melanoma.

This programme will enable researchers to generate clinical assays that will benefit melanoma patients by predicting who will require aggressive treatment, and which patients will respond to specific therapies.

The researchers involved are from four leading academic institutions; UCD, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow, and KU Leuven in Belgium, as well as two clinical diagnostic companies OncoMark Ltd. (Dublin, Ireland) and Pathology Diagnostics Ltd. (Cambridge, UK). 

One of the clinical assays expected to result from SYS-MEL is a test that will be used to predict how aggressive the disease will be in patients. The basis for this was established during the course of research carried out under the successful Target-Melanoma programme.

A core component of the SYS-MEL programme will be systems biology; an emerging field in drug discovery and development. Systems biology enables scientists to model what is happening in patients and within tumours, in order to more accurately predict how cancers will respond to therapies.     

Conway Fellow, Prof. William Gallagher, Associate Professor of Cancer Biology in UCD, Chief Scientific Officer of OncoMark Ltd, and the lead coordinator of the programme said:

We are delighted to lead this European consortium of outstanding cancer research scientists and clinicians, and we are excited at the opportunity to translate our findings into clinical assays that will benefit melanoma patients worldwide.