When children follow the exciting superhero-inspired adventures of “Ray and the Sunbeatables,” learning how to protect themselves from dangerous ultraviolet radiation exposure is easy — and fun! In a new initiative by the Melanoma Moon Shot, MD Anderson recently partnered with the CATCH Global Foundation to bring sun protection education to the nation’s children. Through CATCH, the program is already in approximately 300 classrooms across the nation.
CATCH®, short for Coordinated Approach to Child Health, is a program developed and disseminated by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. It’s already in place in more than 10,000 educational settings across the U.S. MD Anderson behavioral scientists led by Mary Tripp, Ph.D., M.P.H., Susan Peterson, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Ellen Gritz, Ph.D., have created an evidence-based sun protection program with a fun and engaging curriculum that targets students in preschool classrooms.
Now the program is being expanded for the 2017 school year! Curriculum is under development for kindergarten through first-grade students so Ray and his friends can teach even more kids the importance of sun safety.
Three Clinical Trials Testing Novel Approaches
Surgery is still the best treatment option for people with early-stage melanoma. Unfortunately for some, their cancers will come back, either in the same area or elsewhere in the body. Systemic therapies are often given after surgery for those with a greater risk for cancer recurrence. Now the Melanoma Moon Shot team is asking what would happen if therapy began prior to surgery?
Known as neoadjuvant therapy, systemic treatment prior to surgery is often an option for some other cancers, such as breast, in early stages but was not available for melanoma patients until recently because of the lack of treatments with favorable response rates. Due to the development of more effective therapies, the Melanoma Moon Shot has opened two exciting neoadjuvant clinical trials — co-led by Jennifer Wargo, M.D., and Rodabe Amaria, M.D. — and has begun enrolling patients.
The first study is a randomized clinical trial and enrolls one-third of patients on standard surgical treatment (i.e., surgery first). Two-thirds of the patients are given a combination therapy (dabrafenib and trametinib) prior to surgery. The two groups will be compared to see if the neoadjuvant combination therapy improves outcomes over the standard of care.
The second clinical trial tests neoadjuvant immunotherapies. Patients are randomized to either a single agent pre-surgical regimen of nivolumab or a pre-surgical combination therapy of nivoumab and ipilimumab.
In the advanced-stage melanoma setting, therapeutic approaches for patients who have failed prior approved treatments are critically needed. For this purpose, a third trial, also led by Dr. Amaria, teams adaptive T-cell therapy (a process where native immune system cells are collected from the patient’s tumor, multiplied in the laboratory up to 150 billion cells, and then re-infused to the patient) with an immune checkpoint blockade. The hope is that the therapies will work together and garner better results.
As part of our Melanoma Moon Shot, our team of clinicians and scientists work together to study blood and tumors that are collected from patients on these trials. These research studies improve our understanding of the disease by uncovering the mechanisms of response and resistance, potentially gaining insight that would allow us to predict the future patients who will benefit from each of these treatments and to develop new therapies that are even more effective.
Overall, these exciting clinical trials have the chance to set a new paradigm for the treatment of many melanoma patients and to lead to more effective, personalized treatments for this disease.
Focused on patients
MD Anderson is home to one of the largest melanoma and skin cancer clinics in the world. This has led to a nearly unrivaled level of expertise. Learn more about how MD Anderson’s Melanoma Moon Shot is Making Cancer History®.