• Press Release

Mount Sinai and Thomas Jefferson University Researchers Receive Falk Foundation Grant to Study Melanoma

  • New York, NY
  • (September 21, 2016)

[#UvealMelanomaStudy #Research #GradSchoolSinai]

Uveal melanoma (UM) is the second most common type of skin cancer. Approximately 50 percent of patients will develop metastasis or spread of their cancer, most commonly to the liver. The disease can appear more than 10 years after the primary lesion has been removed, lying dormant for long periods. There are currently no FDA-approved therapies for metastatic UM and patient survival is poor, with almost half of patients succumbing to the disease.

Research teams from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) in Philadelphia have received a grant to study the effects of key genetic mutations on the disease, to learn why some cells remain dormant, and to understand the mechanism that causes dormant cells to awake and spread aggressively. The teams also hope that their work will lead to new therapies to prevent or greatly delay UM metastasis. Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Associate Director for Basic Shared Resources and Director of Head and Neck Cancer Basic Research at The Tisch Cancer Institute, will lead the Mount Sinai team and is co-recipient of the $485,000 award from the Dr. Ralph and Marian Falk Medical Research Trust, along with Andrew Aplin, PhD, Professor of Cancer Biology at TJU and principal investigator of the study.

The TJU research and clinical team’s expertise in oncogene biology and cancer cell dormancy, and their access to large numbers of UM patients, is complemented by Mount Sinai’s expertise in cell biology and tumor metastasis. Together, their long-term objective is to inform effective treatment options for advanced-stage UM.

“If we are successful, our findings will for the first time shed light into how UM remains dormant for over a decade in many patients and could significantly change treatment protocols,” said Dr. Aguirre-Ghiso. “More importantly, such knowledge might help in the future save lives affected by UM, a poorly understood cancer.”

"We are tackling a clinically unmet need in the melanoma field via an inter-NCI-designated Cancer Center collaboration," said Dr. Aplin.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is in the "Honor Roll" of best hospitals in America, ranked No. 15 nationally in the 2016-2017 "Best Hospitals" issue of U.S. News & World Report. The Mount Sinai Hospital is also ranked as one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Geriatrics, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Ear, Nose & Throat, and is in the top 50 in four other specialties. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 10 nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report in "Best Children's Hospitals."

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