Mayo Clinic physicians Matthew Block, M.D., Ph.D. and Tina Hieken, M.D., have received a Stand up to Cancer (SU2C) Catalyst Award to fund melanoma research and a neoadjuvant clinical trial.

"This study, "Neoactivate," will test two novel approaches to the treatment of patients with high-risk, stage 3 melanoma guided by specific mutations within the melanoma," says Dr. Hieken. "Two combinations of immunotherapy and targeted therapy will be given before surgery, and all patients will receive immunotherapy after surgery."

"Our study will look at how effective these drug therapies are when given before and after surgery in treating patients with high-risk, stage 3 melanoma," says Dr. Block. "We also will evaluate key biomarkers of treatment response and patient outcomes."

Patients participating in the clinical trial will receive the combination of cobimetinib and atezolizumab, or the combination of vemurafenib, cobimetinib, and atezolizumab followed by surgery and adjuvant treatment with atezolizumab. All three medicines are manufactured by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

Standard adjuvant therapy

Drs. Block and Hieken say they hope to learn if the combination of targeted therapy and immunotherapy before surgery, and immunotherapy after surgery works better than standard adjuvant therapy for treating patients with high-risk, stage 3 melanoma. They also plan to identify biomarkers that may predict treatment response.

"We are so pleased that Dr. Block and Dr. Hieken are bringing this important clinical trial to our SU2C Catalyst portfolio," says Sung Poblete, Ph.D., president, and CEO, Stand up to Cancer. "This team adds depth and breadth to our already robust collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, helping to advance the standard of care for cancer patients."

"SU2C Catalyst has created a structured and prioritized approach to translational clinical studies with oversight from Stand up to Cancer's renowned academic advisors and representatives of Genentech, in order to accelerate the time to get new treatments to patients," says Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the College of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, and chair of the Stand up to Cancer Catalyst ? Genentech Subcommittee.

As SU2C's scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and a Scientific Advisory Committee led by Nobel Laureate Phillip Sharp, Ph.D., conduct rigorous, competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration and provide expert review of research progress.