Thomas Jefferson University Research Magazine



Melanoma represents a small fraction of skin cancerrelated malignancies, yet accounts for the majority of its mortalities—and the incidence of cutaneous melanoma is rising. While treatments using smalltargeted inhibitors and immune checkpoint antibodies have increased long-term survival in advancedstage cutaneous melanoma, many patients still do not realize any benefit from the treatments. Another group of patients initially have beneficial results but ultimately find their disease progressing, in part due to cancer cells’ acquired resistance to immune response. And still other patients have difficulty with the treatment’s high toxicity.

Emad Alnemri, PhD, Thomas Eakins Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Andrew Aplin, PhD, Kalbach-Newton Professor of Cancer Research, have been leading a series of studies of the molecular processes that determine whether or not current inhibitor and immune checkpoint treatments will work well in melanoma patients, and for how long. Now, based on the results of those studies, they are working to develop new, more-effective treatment approaches that address three goals: triggering a robust anti-tumor immune response that has significant clinical effect, preventing onset of acquired resistance and minimizing patient toxicities.

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