Skin Cancer Research and Clinical Trials
Our Center is at the forefront of skin cancer research, conducting both clinical trials and basic science studies to advance our understanding of skin cancers and to develop new treatments. With a prominent team of basic scientists and translational researchers recruited from leading institutions, our goal is to move beyond the limitations of standard therapy.
In the area of melanoma, for example, our researchers are working to identify therapies for stage IV disease that provide durable benefit in a very high percentage of people. For early stage melanomas, we are developing tests to predict the likelihood of recurrence and investigating treatment approaches to decrease the chances that a melanoma will come back. We work with immunologists, molecular biologists, cell biologists, and geneticists to make novel discoveries.
Mount Sinai has a robust clinical trials program for skin cancer. We are actively enrolling patients in a number of current studies, including the following:
- A Single Arm Open-Label Phase II study of Vemurafenib Followed by a Continuous Administration of Ipilimumab: A study to examine the safety of sequential (one after another) therapy of vemurafenib (Zelboraf®) and ipilimumab (Yervoy™), and find out whether this treatment schedule is safe for patients with regards to the main common side effects on the skin.
- A Multi-center, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Adaptive Phase 3 Trial of POL-103A Polyvalent Melanoma Vaccine: A study to confirm the safety of the investigational vaccine POL-103A and test if its administration on a regular schedule can increase the immune system activity, which is thought to delay the melanoma from coming back.
- A phase III, randomised, open-label study comparing the combination of the BRAF inhibitor, dabrafenib and the MEK inhibitor, trametinib to the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib: A study to test two experimental drugs in combination, dabrafenib which targets the BRAF gene and trametinib which aims at a different cell signaling gene called MEK and see how well they work together compared to another drug vemurafenib (also known as Zelboraf®) which also targets the BRAF gene, for treating metastatic melanoma.
- Establishing A Gene Signature for Early Stage Melanoma at High Risk of Reoccurrence: In this study we have three aims: screen the dermatopathology database at Mount Sinai and identify melanoma specimens from patients who have recurrent versus non recurrent melanoma; establish a protocol for extraction of RNA from paraffin embedded primary melanoma tissues; and establish an inflammatory signature for early stage melanoma. (This is a non-treatment trial.)
In addition to clinical trials, we are also conducting basic science research that includes studies by Mount Sinai investigators in the following areas:
- Histones in the DNA in melanoma
This area of research focuses on the epigenetic regulation of gene expression in multiple biological pathways including cancer (with a focus on melanoma) and stem cell biology. This includes a number of mechanisms that alter the chromatin template, including histone modifications, histone variants and their dedicated chaperones, and non-coding RNAs. This research is being conducted by the following investigator:
Emily Bernstein, PhD
The following researchers are investigating ways of harnessing the body's immune system in response to cancer:
Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD
Sacha Gnjatic, PhD
Miriam Merad, MD, PhD
Anna Karolina Palucka, MD, PhD
Yvonne Saenger, MD
This research is directed towards understanding the complex biologic and biochemical effects of components of the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway (ERK signaling) in human cancer, with emphasis in malignant melanoma. This research is being conducted by the following investigator:
Poulikos Poulikakos, PhD
- Novel agents that could block melanoma growth and survival
The following researchers are investigating the use of novel agents in the treatment of cancer, including melanoma:
Premkumar Reddy, PhD
Stuart Aaronson, MD
- Genetics and Genomics of Melanoma and Melanoma Precursors
This area of research focuses on molecules and signaling pathways that are critical for melanocyte transformation and metastasis. This research is being conducted by the following investigator: Julide Tok Celebi, M.D.