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$12M NIH Grant to Study Rare, Aggressive Skin Cancer

By April 17, 2019No Comments

A multidisciplinary team from University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has received a five-year, $12 million grant to study Merkel cell carcinoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. Dr. Paul Nghiem, a skin cancer researcher at UW and Fred Hutch, is the principal investigator of the grant.

Merkel cell carcinoma, or MCC, is much rarer than melanoma, but patients are three times more likely to die from it. And the number of cases in the United States is growing rapidly.

The Seattle-based team has already collaborated on MCC research for more than a decade and made major contributions to the field. They led a pivotal clinical trial of an immunotherapy drug that transformed treatment for many people with the cancer.

MCC is a perfect candidate to test immunotherapies, and the new grant will help advance that work, Nghiem said.

“Our Seattle-based team is truly grateful to have secured this grant that brings together scientists with diverse backgrounds to focus on Merkel cell carcinoma,” Nghiem said. “Because this virus-driven cancer is normally so visible to immune system, MCC tumors had to develop potent approaches to evade immunity. We have begun to decipher those tricks, and that should be helpful in treating mo