The melanoma research fund is a specialist fund within The Christie charity.
Many people who fundraise or make a donation to The Christie charity wish that their money goes towards a certain project, specialist area or type of research. The MRF has many dedicated supporters who have been affected by melanoma either themselves, because of a family member, loved one, friend or colleague.
The MRF has supported many of the recent breakthroughs in the treatment of Melanoma, including Ipilimumab; the first new treatment for 30 years in the UK that is extending life expectancy in patients with advanced melanoma. We are continuing to make major progress in the treatment of melanoma, developing new drug treatments that are meaning more patients are likely to live longer. But there remains a lot more to do, and the MRF is integral to this.
Use of donations
This information is for both personal and professional interest. The Charity Commission requires evidence from registered charities of how funds are utilised.
Donations to the MRF are not spent on an on-going basis. Rather, we identify specific projects we wish to support. We then have to apply for the money through a well-established process including reviews by the Clinical Research Strategy Group and the Charity Board amongst others.
The Charity agreed to support a new Consultant Medical Oncologist, Dr. Avinash Gupta, to carry out melanoma research and clinical work for 2 years (equally sharing the cost with the NHS). This will significantly increase our capacity to carry out research, including areas we haven’t previously worked in. This post started in the Autumn.
Dr. Sara Valpione is a clinical research fellow funded by the MRF. She works with the CRUK Manchester Institute molecular oncology team (melanoma) and the clinical team. Her research successes have been widely recognised and are detailed in our Research news pages.
Here is how some of the money from the MRF has been spent over recent years:
£119,000 (added to funding from CRUK) for The PIANO study (opened Nov 2015). Prof. Lorigan is the Principal Investigator of this national study. It evaluates a new treatment for two rare sub-types of melanoma - acral and mucosal. As well as studying the drug's effect on patients it is also being examined in the laboratory at the MCRC (Manchester Caner Research Centre). It is this 'Translational' aspect of the trial that the MRF is funding. Understanding the basic science of the treatment will encompass how the drug works, how melanoma cells might become resistant to it and new treatment strategies. See also the research news section.
£280,000 grant to run a trial of a new panRAF inhibitor which was developed here at the CRUK Manchester Institute in collaboration with the The Institute for Cancer Studies (Royal Marsden) and The Wellcome Foundation. The study is running here and at The Royal Marsden. The first patient began their treatment here in April 2015. For extra detail see the research news section.
£47,000 to fund a Clinical Fellow for one year. In the time Dr Sam Bowyer was with us she wrote several important papers on treatment selection and toxicity management. These will be important patient management references for less experienced teams.
£85,000 on the AscMe study: published in two journals (more details on the research news page). This was funded entirely by MRF funds.
£95,000 to support a Senior Technical Officer for three years working on bio markers in melanoma that predict risk of recurrence, identify early resistance to treatment and monitor patients response to treatment. This knowledge enables us personalise treatment. Already we have made much progress in this area.
£12,000 to fund a project on detailed molecular profiling of patients with melanoma to help predict which treatment is best for them on an individual basis; again with the aim of personalising treatment. This work was presented at an international meeting in 2014.