Melanoma accounts for only 1% of skin cancer diagnoses but causes the majority of skin cancer deaths. Two newer types of treatment, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, have shown great benefits for people with advanced melanoma. However, developing resistance to targeted therapy and low response rate to immunotherapy remains an issue. Additionally, only a subset of patients with melanoma, those who have a specific mutation in their genes, are eligible for targeted therapies. GCI graduate trainees Tiffany Lin and Aristophane Chay (Prof. Ian Watson lab) tell us about their research to address these issues and develop better treatments.

Aristophane (above) is working on ways to develop and optimize targeted therapies for patients who currently aren’t eligible whereas Tiffany’s project focuses on a cancer-targeting virus that can be used in combination with immunotherapy to improve patient response.

“While targeted therapy and immunotherapy have provided long term benefits for some patients, others who aren’t eligible, develop resistance, or don’t respond to treatment are left with limited options. Our work seeks to uncover new therapeutic strategies to better treat patients who currently have limited options,” explained Tiffany and Aristophane.

To tackle their research hypotheses, Tiffany (above) and Aristophane are well supported by the Scientific Platforms of the GCI: “The GCI is a great institution for us as trainees. The GCI provides us with resources useful for our projects, like the Flow Cytometry Core Facility, but also allows us to interact with and learn from scientists in other labs who work in close proximity,” shared Tiffany and Aristophane.

Their collaborations extend beyond the laboratory doors of the GCI: Tiffany is currently involved in projects with Prof. Philippe Roux at University of Montreal and with Prof. Thomas Gervais at École Polytechnique de Montréal. “It has been a great way to expand my network and learn from other labs who have different expertise!”

Photos by Yu Gu.