UAMS Researcher Gets $1.75M to Study New Melanoma Therapies

UAMS Researcher Gets $1.75M to Study New Melanoma Therapies

A cancer researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has received a five-year, $1.75 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to identify new tumor targets in the treatment of metastatic melanoma.

Alan Tackett, Ph.D., a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, serves as associate director of basic research in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

UAMS estimates that about 96,480 Americans, including 760 Arkansans, will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin in 2019. Treatment options are limited and often unsuccessful. 

New types of immunotherapy have emerged recently to treat metastatic melanoma. While some, such as the drugs Keytruda and Opdivo, are successful for many patients, others fail.

"While these new therapies show great promise for many people, approximately half of metastatic melanoma patients do not respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors," Tackett said in a news release. "My laboratory is focused on understanding why some patients do not respond to these immunotherapies, so we can use that information to turn these patients into responders."

UAMS also said the grant will bolster its efforts to receive National Cancer Institute Designation, which requires the institution achieve at least $20 million in annual direct cost research funding from an approved list of funding agencies.