Acral melanoma is a rare subtype melanoma that occurs primarily on the hands and feet. It is the most common form of melanoma in patients of Asian and African-American origin. At this time little is known about acral melanoma biology and there are few effective treatments. We are working with our collaborators Drs. Messina, Smalley, Karreth, Chen, Teer, and Koomen to identify the genetic drivers of acral melanoma development and to develop new animal models and ultimately therapies for this disease.
Brain and leptomeningeal metastases
Brain metastases are the most devastating complication of advanced melanoma. Little is known about the unique biology of melanoma metastases in the brain and leptomeninges. Research in this area is focused upon understanding the unique immune and tissue environment of these metastases and identifying the mechanisms that underlie the dissemination of melanoma cells to the brain and leptomeninges.
Although most commonly considered to be an adult disease, melanoma can also occur in pediatric patients. The incidence of pediatric melanoma is rising, particularly in individuals between the ages of 15-19. The majority of pediatric melanomas are sporadic and relatively little is known about their molecular basis. Our research in this space leverages Moffitt’s unique clinical experience (Drs. Sondak, Messina) along with cutting edge research methods (Drs. Adeegbe, Karreth, Tsai, Chen) to delineate the mechanisms of pediatric melanoma development.
Uveal melanoma is the most common cancer of the eye. It is somewhat unique from skin melanoma in having a very low mutational burden and a near total resistance to both targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Our research in this area focuses upon epigenetic deregulation in uveal melanoma and constitutes a multi-institutional collaboration between Moffitt (Drs. Smalley), University of Miami (Dr. Bill Harbour) and the University of Florida (Dr. Jonathan Licht).