Pathology experts shine a light on melanoma
Richard Scolyer thinks of himself as a clinician who does research. Others might say he’s the lynchpin in a team waging war against skin cancer.
A senior staff specialist with Sydney South West Pathology Service, he is also co-director of research at the Melanoma Institute of Australia – the world’s largest melanoma treatment centre.
Richard is also part of a multi-disciplinary team which, for the third time, has received a five-year grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
The $15 million grant will help the institute conduct large-scale genomic analyses of people with the disease.
“We hope to create better melanoma treatments and help improve the management of high risk populations,” he said.
“We have a great team with complementary skill sets. By working together we can do things together that none of us could do individually."
About 40% of melanomas have a mutated BRAF gene that causes the tumour cells to proliferate. Drugs were developed to block this and suddenly patients who were dying of advanced stage disease were having incredible turnarounds. Unfortunately most patients relapsed within a year.
The team is now gaining insights into using the body’s natural immune system to recognise and attack the tumour and enhance treatment.
The funding, along with philanthropic donations, has seen recently qualified pathologists Louise Jackett and Robert Rawson join Richard’s team.
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