Jake Siegel of Fred Hutch News Service reports that a multidisciplinary research team involving University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center received a $12 million grant to study a deadly form of skin cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). This Seattle-based team has already collaborated on MCC research over the decade including the pivotal clinical trial of an immunotherapy drug that transformed treatment for many cancer patients. The principal investigator, Dr. Paul Nghiem, focuses on new ways to prevent and treat skin cancers by studying the systems that control cell division. For example, such systems help prevent cells with damaged DNA from reproducing and, when they malfunction, can impact cells’ chances of becoming cancerous.
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), considerably rarer than melanoma, is three times deadlier. The number of cases grows rapidly. The $12 million National Institutes of Health grant (P01) funds three projects including:
Immune responses to cancer-causing virus
This study focuses on how the immune system responds to a virus that can cause MCC.
T-cell therapy for MCC
Fred Hutch will advance work involving engineered T-cell receptors enabling immune cells to home in on MCC
Why do checkpoint inhibitors fail in MCC?
The headline story: Fred Hutch seeks to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms associated with the success or failure of checkpoint inhibitors
Dr. Shailender Bhatia