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CURE OM Research Grant Recipient Announced

Walter Fast, Ph.D.The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is pleased to announce that Walter Fast, Ph.D. has been selected as the recipient of a one-year MRF CURE OM Pilot Proposal Focused on GNAQ/11 Mutant Uveal Melanoma. Dr. Fast is a Professor and the William I. Dismukes Fellow in Pharmacy, Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin. This grant awards $100,000 for the novel and innovative study of the biology and therapeutic targeting of GNAQ/11 mutant uveal melanoma and was made possible through the efforts of the MRF as well as the generosity of Jack Odell, John Dagres and their supporters.

Dr. Fast’s proposal is titled Innovative Approaches for GNAQ/11 Mutant Characterization and Therapeutic Targeting and is described in the following lay abstract:

A type of cancer found in the colored part the eye is called uveal melanoma. This particular type of cancer can often be treated successfully with surgery and radiation. However, if allowed to spread, the cancer is often deadly and there are very few effective treatment options. By building an understanding of how this cancer starts and spreads, new therapeutic treatments can be developed. Many cases of uveal melanoma appear to arise from harmful changes in one particular protein (a “G-protein”) that essentially turns on the circuits that lead to cancer growth. In this project, we are studying the changes in this G protein to understand how they “turn on” this switch. We are also using this information to take the first steps in designing new drugs to stop these cancers. By knowing more information about the changes in the G-protein, we can design new drugs that seek out and turn off only the harmful proteins, and not the healthy versions. Although these efforts lie in the realm of basic research, they provide a foundation on which useful anti-cancer drugs can be built.

The Melanoma Research Foundation congratulates Dr. Fast and his laboratory team and looks forward to the results of this innovative research. For more information about how the MRF supports a broad field of melanoma science, including a list of previous grant recipients and upcoming funding opportunities, please visit the MRF Research Center.

Learn more about ocular melanoma (OM) and how the MRF’s CURE OM initiative is working to advance research towards more effective treatments and, one day, a cure for OM.