TGen-led study of metastatic melanoma secures $2 million grant

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Aug. 29, 2018 — Like a medical marathon, physicians run to keep up with metastatic cancer as it races ahead, outsmarting one treatment after another, and this is especially true for patients with metastatic melanoma.

Currently, there is no reliable blood test to detect or monitor this extremely lethal disease, which has a dismal 5-year survival rate of only 20 percent, meaning only one in every five patients remains alive 5 years after diagnosis.

Now, some of the nation’s top biomedical institutes — led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope — have received a $2 million federal grant towards discovering a new way to detect and track metastatic melanoma and understand how it escapes treatment.

“To monitor melanoma during treatment, the only available test today is imaging, such as a CT scan,” said Dr. Muhammed Murtaza, Co-Director of TGen’s Center for Noninvasive Diagnostics and the study’s principal investigator. “But you can’t scan patients very often during treatment because it’s expensive and exposes patients to radiation. If we can develop a blood test to monitor treatment response, we may be able to use it weekly.”

Dr. Murtaza proposes to isolate


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