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MRA, Hidary Foundation Provide $1M for Acral Melanoma Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Melanoma Research Alliance and the Hidary Foundation have awarded $1 million to fund two new genome sequencing-focused research projects aimed at understanding the genetic drivers of acral melanoma, MRA said today.

The funding will support studies at the Kaiser Permanente Research Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, the University of California, San Francisco, and Vanderbilt University.

Acral melanoma is a subtype that generally affects the palms of hands, soles of feet, and underneath fingernails, and has a 10 to 20 percent lower survival rate than non-acral cutaneous melanoma.

"Despite recent progress in defining the genetic basis of cutaneous melanoma, comprehensive studies are lacking in patients with acral melanoma," David Solit, of MSKCC and chairman of MRA's Grant Review Committee, said in a statement.

Hidary Foundation Chairman Jack Hidary said the funding partners believe that whole exome and whole genome sequencing of large sets of patients offers the "key to new breakthroughs in the fight against cancer."

"These teams will focus on unraveling the genetic signature of this cancer, and this will extend their work to other cancers as we collectively build greater genomic capabilities," Hidary said.

Kaiser Permanente's Maryam Asgari will lead one of the research projects, a partnership with UCSF, and the second team will be led by Vanderbilt University's Jeffrey Sosman and will include researchers at MSKCC and TGen.

MRA said it has now awarded over $49 million to support research to find ways to treat, prevent, detect, and stage melanoma.