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Skin Cancer Foundation Hits the Road: Destination Healthy Skin Program Kicks Off on May 6, 2023

The Skin Cancer Foundation will launch its annual mobile education and screening program, Destination Healthy Skin, on Saturday, May 6, in Greenwich, CT.

The program educates the public about the importance of skin cancer early detection and effective sun protection. Inside the Destination Healthy Skin RV, local volunteer dermatologists provide free full-body skin cancer screenings in private exam rooms. All visitors receive information about skin cancer warning signs and proper sun protection, as well as product samples courtesy of program sponsors.

The RV will travel approximately 10,000 miles over 4 and a half months, making its way around the country before heading to Illinois in September for the final event of the season in Rockford. The Foundation will host Destination Healthy Skin events in approximately 30 cities. (A list of events is available at DestinationHealthySkin.org.)

“This will be the 13th year our RV has been on the road,” says Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, president of The Skin Cancer Foundation and a dermatologist in private practice in New York, in a news release. “Over the years, with the help of hundreds of dermatologists, we’ve provided more than 27,000 free skin cancer screenings and identified more than 11,000 suspected skin cancers. Without this intervention, many of those skin cancers may have gone undetected until they began to grow and spread, thus becoming more difficult to treat.”

“This program is a free public health service that allows us to connect with thousands of people in a short period of time,” adds Dan Latore, executive director of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “And we may never know the number of people who have seen our early detection messaging on the side of the RV or in the extensive media coverage, but that extra reach is a big part of why this program is so valuable.”

The Foundation will document the RV’s journey on its website, SkinCancer.org, Sun & Skin News blog and social media channels so that people can follow along, thus expanding the reach of the program beyond the communities visited.

The 2023 Destination Healthy Skin program is made possible by generous support from EltaMD Skin Care; Bristol Myers Squibb; DSM Personal Care; Genentech, A member of the Roche Group; Sun Bum; Merck & Co., Inc.; The Lynne Waxman Foundation; and The Sunshine Foundation.

Melanoma Research Alliance, Bimini Bay Outfitters Join Forces to Advance Research

The Melanoma Research Alliance and Bimini Bay Outfitters, a leader in high-performance outdoor apparel, are partnering to accelerate research into melanoma and promote sun safety among outdoor enthusiasts.

Alongside a series of educational content rolling out from both organizations, the partnership includes a $10,000 donation from Bimini Bay Outfitters to the MRA’s lifesaving grants program and a commitment to donate 10% of all proceeds when customers shop through a dedicated link.

“Our customers love the outdoors, and for almost 30 years we’ve developed the apparel outdoor enthusiasts need to make the most of it,” says Bimini Bay Outfitters President Bob Feld Scott, in a news release. “We are excited to partner with the Melanoma Research Alliance to promote sun safety.”

Through the partnership, the two organizations will develop and promote a variety of sun safety educational materials specifically for outdoor enthusiasts, that covers topics including:

  • Never Intentionally Tan
  • Wear UPF Clothing
  • Wear Sunscreen
  • Avoid Peak Rays

“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Bimini Bay Outfitters to promote sun safety among outdoor enthusiasts,” says Melanoma Research Alliance President & Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Kauffman. “We want people to understand that you can be sun safe while enjoying the activities that you love.”

Adding New Personalized Vaccine to Immunotherapy Slashes Risk for Melanoma Recurrence

Adding an experimental mRNA vaccine to immunotherapy reduced the likelihood of melanoma recurring or causing death by 44% when compared with immunotherapy alone, a new clinical trial shows.

The phase 2b trial results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Orlando, FL. The trial included men and women who had surgery to remove melanoma from lymph nodes or other organs and were at high risk for the disease metastasizing to other organs.

Of 107 study participants who were ireceived both the experimental vaccine, called mRNA-4157/V940, and the immunotherapy pembrolizumab, the cancer returned in 24 patients (22.4%) within 2 years of follow-up, compared with 20 out of 50 (40%) who received only pembrolizumab.

“Because the study participants all had their tumors removed, their cells were analyzed for molecules that could be recognized by the immune system and were specific to each melanoma, allowing a ‘personalized’ vaccine to be created for each patient,” says lead study author Jeffrey Weber, MD, PhD, the deputy director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health and the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City, NY. “A larger, confirmatory phase 3 study is already being planned by Merck and Moderna, which will include patients at NYU Langone and a number of medical centers globally.”

Study results so far led the United States Food and Drug Administration in February to grant Breakthrough Therapy Designation to mRNA-4157/V940 in combination with pembrolizumab.

Immunotherapies have become the mainstay for treating melanoma, although they do not work for all patients as melanoma cells, known for their ability to evade the immune system, can become resistant to immunotherapy. For this reason, researchers have looked at adding vaccines to the protocol. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-4157/V940 is based on messenger RNA; mRNA cancer vaccines are designed to teach the body’s immune system to recognize cancer cells as different from normal cells.

The personalized mRNA-4157/V940 vaccine took about 6 to 8 weeks to develop for each patient and could recognize as many as 34 neoantigens. Severe side effects were similar between the two arms of the study, they said, with fatigue being the most common side effect specific to the vaccine reported by patients.

The study was funded by Moderna Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., and Merck of Rahway, NJ. mRNA-4157/V940 is being jointly developed and commercialized by Moderna and Merck. Merck is the manufacturer of pembrolizumab. Dr. Weber consults for and has received less than $10,000 per annum from Merck, Genentech, Astra Zeneca, GSK, Novartis, Nektar, Celldex, Incyte, Biond, Moderna, ImCheck, Sellas, Evaxion, Pfizer, Regeneron, and EMD Serono; has received $10,000 to $25,000 from BMS for membership on Advisory Boards; he holds equity in Biond, Evaxion, OncoC4, and Instil Bio; and is on scientific advisory boards for CytoMx, Incyte, ImCheck, Biond, Sellas, Instil Bio, OncoC4, and Neximmune, for which he is remunerated between $10,000 to $50,000 dollars. He is not a member of any speaker’s bureau; NYU received research support from BMS, Merck, GSK, Moderna, Pfizer, Novartis, and Astra Zeneca. Dr. Weber is one of the co-authors on two patents filed by Moffitt Cancer Center and one patent filed by Biodesix and receives less than $6,000 yearly in royalties. These relationships are being managed in accordance with the policies and practices of NYU Langone Health.

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