Help for melanoma patients

2 May 2013

The Melanoma Institute Australia, affiliated with the University of Sydney, has announced researcher Dr Georgina Long and colleagues have been awarded a prestigious international Team Science Grant for preventative research by the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA).

Melanoma Institute Australia is one of several leading academic research institutions around the world to share in over $9.6 million in MRA grants to develop improved means to prevent, detect and treat melanoma, one of the fastest growing cancers.

The grant for $100,000 per annum for three years is for a study to investigate the molecular effects of BRAF inhibitors in brain and extra-cranial metastases, and ultimately lead to more effective therapeutic strategies for melanoma patients with brain metastases.

Up to 45 percent of patients with stage IV melanoma will develop clinical evidence of brain involvement. Multiple studies have demonstrated that the median survival after the development of melanoma brain metastases is four months.

Dr Long, a medical oncologist from Melanoma Institute Australia and the University is a principal investigator on the study.

"It is an honour to receive this prestigious international research grant," Dr Long said.

"It is the culmination of efforts by many people working across our organisation with MD Anderson Cancer Centre and the University of Pittsburgh.

"It is recognition of Australia's leading role in accelerating much needed new therapeutic approaches for patients with metastatic disease.

"Brain metastases are one of the most common and devastating complications of metastatic melanoma.

"Australia is the melanoma capital of the world. One of the hopes of the future is that there are more treatment options for people with disease that has spread to other parts of the body."

This latest round of awards brings the total awarded by MRA in its six year history to almost $48 million, provided to 169 investigators at 80 institutions in 13 countries. MRA directs 100 percent of all public donations it receives to research.

About melanoma: Up to a half of all patients with advanced melanoma develop clinically apparent brain metastases and the average survival among these patients is about 16 to 20 weeks. Of all solid tumours, melanoma has the greatest capacity to spread via the blood stream to the brain. Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world and melanoma is often referred to as the "Australian cancer".

Around 12,500 new cases are diagnosed each year and melanoma is responsible for over 1500 deaths, which is more than the 1,200 who died on the roads in Australia in 2011. Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians, affecting more individuals aged 15 to 39 than any other cancer. While 90 percent of people with melanoma are able to be cured by having the primary melanoma cancer removed.

About the Melanoma Institute: Melanoma Institute Australia is dedicated to preventing and curing melanoma through innovative, world-class research, treatment and education programs.

Based in the Poche Centre, the world's largest melanoma research and treatment centre, Melanoma Institute Australia is affiliated with the University of Sydney and St Vincents and Mater Health Sydney.

About the Melanoma Research Alliance: The Melanoma Research Alliance is a public charity formed in 2007 under the auspices of the Milken Institute, with the generous founding support of Debra and Leon Black. It supports an international, cross-disciplinary group of biomedical researchers possessing clinical and scientific expertise to explore, identify and pursue innovative solutions to critical research questions, leading to better treatments and a cure for melanoma patients. For more information, visit

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Media enquiries: Lisa Sampson, Melanoma Institute Australia, 02 9911 7314, 0406 523 324,

Rachel Gleeson, 02 9351 4630, 0481 004 782 or