Research Grant Awarded in Memory of George Madzia

Dear Kevin,

MRF’s Board of Directors last night approved named research grants for 2005 and I am pleased to inform you that a co-shared grant will be named in George Madzia’s memory.

Dr. Mayumi Fujita from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver has received the Award in Memory of Kathy Domijan, George Madzia, Kathy Salling and Deb Sandry. This is a second-year, $50,000 grant. The title of her grant is “Yeast Vaccine: A Novel Melanoma Vaccine” and I have attached a description. I will also inform Dr. Fujita of the named award and will provide contact information for her to communicate directly with you.

As we have said often, the challenges still facing the melanoma community are many, but the opportunities available to the Melanoma Research Foundation to make significant and meaningful differences are so much greater. Our mission is clear — research, education and advocacy. With your continuing involvement and support, I am confident we will succeed in finding new, effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure. We will, as well, continue to expand our awareness/prevention messages, to develop meaningful educational resources for patients, families, and healthcare providers, and to raise the voice of the melanoma community in Washington DC.

We are proud to have been able to name this grant in your father’s memory. Thank you and best wishes to you and your family in 2005 from all of us.

Sincerely,

William R. Marsch
Acting Executive Director
The Melanoma Research Foundation

DR. MAYUMI FUJITA

Dr. Fujita of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver is a 2004 and 2005 recipient of a research grant from the Melanoma Research Foundation. In 2005 she will receive the Award in Memory of Kathy Domijan, George Madzia, Kathy Salling and Deb Sandry.

Despite recent advances in molecular and cellular immunology, the development of therapeutic cancer vaccines has proven to be an enormous challenge. Dr. Fujita suggests that an effective vaccine needs to attract and stimulate antigen-presenting cells (APCs) that are very good at alerting the immune system’s killer T-cells. Recently, the whole recombinant yeast expressing chicken protein (OVA) was demonstrated to mediate APC maturation, efficient priming of MHC class I- and class II-restricted antigen-specific immune responses, and protection from OVA-expressing tumor challenge. Dr. Fujita’s lab will test the hypothesis that such potent yeast vaccine formulation may target “self” tumor antigens. In her current project, MART-1 (melanocyte/melanoma antigen recognized by T cells) will be engineered into yeast and the pre-clinical evaluations of the whole yeast vaccine will be performed using developing and pre-existing melanomas in mouse melanoma models. The whole recombinant yeast vaccine is an attractive vaccine platform that may not require the addition of adjuvants and that could be rapidly translated into the clinic. These pre-clinical studies could prove very significant in the evolution of more effective melanoma vaccines.

Dr. Fujita’s MRF-funded project is called “Yeast Vaccine: A Novel Melanoma Vaccine.”

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