American Cancer Society awards grant to Hormel Institute scientist

Published 8:02 am Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dr. James Robinson, head of The Hormel Institute’s Cell Signaling and Tumorigenesis lab, has been awarded an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant.

The nearly $800,000 award will help fund a research project titled, “Determination and Validation of Resistance Mechanisms in Melanoma.”

Dr. James Robinson

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Minnesota has the highest incidence of melanoma in Midwest states.

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Despite advances in melanoma research, the five-year survival rate for patients with advanced disease remains around 16 percent. Scientists recently have developed therapies that specifically attack melanoma cells, leaving normal cells unharmed. Two therapeutic agents, vemurafenib, and dabrafenib, are FDA-approved for the treatment of advanced melanomas that carry BRAFV600E mutations. Although the initial response to these inhibitors can be dramatic, the melanomas nearly always become resistant.

Robinson and his team from The Hormel Institute will determine and validate the core mechanisms of melanoma’s resistance to these inhibitors. They will use a new model of melanoma they have developed that provides an exceptional experimental system to study this issue.

“I am honored to receive this Research Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society,” said Robinson. “The research it will fund will greatly assist in the development of novel therapies that will improve the outcome for patients with melanoma.”