There is still a lot to learn about the genetic changes that occur as melanoma tumours form - and about the body's response to this illness. Greater understanding could help to predict how individual tumours are likely to respond to various combinations of therapies. An EU-funded network is training young researchers who are exploring this issue.
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MelGen is enabling more than a dozen young scientists from universities around Europe to hone their research skills, in a bid to help take targeted treatment of melanoma another step ahead. It is a network backed by the EUs Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship programme, as part of plan to advance a scientific discipline while fostering excellence and business innovation in a new generation of researchers.
Networks supported by this type of grant are expected to support young researchers not only with training in their chosen field, but also with opportunities to develop their creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation capabilities. They typically involve partners from several sectors, enabling participants to experience different types of research setting.
Work in MelGen focuses on two aspects of melanoma that are crucial to survival. In addition to focusing on genomic alterations associated with tumour development, the research encompasses the immune systems response to the disease so as to improve understanding of the tumours ability to suppress this response.
While the research relates to melanoma, any insights it may generate might also be relevant to other types of tumour. Ultimately, the training MelGen is providing could help to refine the treatment of a variety of cancers.
Led by the University of Leeds, the network involves a variety of academic and commercial partners who are collaborating to offer the participating early stage researchers an innovative, interdisciplinary training programme. It was set up in June 2016 for a period of four years.