Manuel Valiente, head of the Brain Metastasis Group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), has been funded in the 2017 grant cycle by the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), the largest private funder of melanoma research. The research, titled 'Blocking melanoma brain metastasis by targeting the microenvironment', will focus on investigate actionable targets that will lead to more efficient design of anticancer treatments for patients with metastatic melanoma to the brain.
MRA's 2017 awards portfolio totals over $8.5 million and funds 34 scientists at 28 leading academic institutions in six countries. Valiente is the only Spanish researcher awarded this year. The 34 funded programs aim to accelerate research into novel prevention and treatment strategies to drive better outcomes for melanoma patients and those at risk.
"We are thrilled to be funding Dr. Valiente at the CNIO," says Louise M. Perkins, PhD, Chief Science Officer at the Melanoma Research Alliance. "Fresh perspectives from senior and young melanoma investigators as well as insights from astrophysicists, materials scientists and others new to the field are converging to drive pivotal advances in the prevention and diagnosis of melanoma and continue to build on our momentum of unlocking the most favorable treatments."
The aim of Valiente and the Brain Metastasis Group is to uncover the mechanisms that allow cancer cells to spread, colonize and grow in the brain. "We believe that developing a research program devoted to this unmet clinical need is the only way to change the historical endpoint stage assigned to the diagnosis of brain metastasis", explains Valiente. The poor prognosis of this advanced stage of cancer is due to the poor efficacy of the limited therapeutic options available.
"I have been always interested in working in Melanoma given the remarkable number of patients that develop brain metastases, however until know I did not have the chance", says Valiente. "We are trying to develop a new concept of treating metastasis in the context of personalized medicine, which is based on the possibility that new drugs can be developed to treat patients according to where metastases are located."
MRA will allow Valiente and his group to explore this biology and its therapeutic implications in melanoma. This grant also reinforces CNIO's research in the melanoma field where Marisol Soengas, head of the Melanoma Group and also an MRA grantee, and Héctor Peinado, head of the Metastasis and Microenvironment Group, have ongoing projects.