Meenhard Herlyn speaks to Sebastian Dennis-Beron, Commissioning Editor:
Dr Meenhard Herlyn is Caspar Wistar Professor for Melanoma Research and Director of the Melanoma Research Center at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, as well as Founding President of the Society for Melanoma Research. He has been a cancer researcher since arriving at Wistar in 1976 and has worked in melanoma research since 1977. Current major efforts include the ability to model the microenvironment of normal and diseased human tissue through 3D artificial skin, providing his laboratory with a unique insight into cancer research. His laboratory also seeks to further define the various signaling pathways that work in cancer cells in order to discover new opportunities to inhibit cancer growth through targeted therapeutics. Since therapy is increasingly guided by the genetic aberrations in tumors, Dr Herlyn and colleagues are developing combinations of compounds that take into account the genetic signature of tumors, with the specific goal of individualized cancer therapy. Another major effort of his laboratory is the study of therapy resistance and tumor dormancy. Tumor cells can become dormant in primary tumors or at any time after metastatic dissemination and can persist in the dormant state for many years, allowing tumors to resist treatment. Dr Herlyn’s working hypothesis is that defined tumor subpopulations are central to dormancy and drug resistance due to their slow turnover and their nonresponsiveness to growth signals. His efforts seek to define how tumor cells escape dormancy for growth, invasion and metastasis, and how to best develop strategies for therapy. Because of the significance of immunotherapy in treatment of melanoma patients, the laboratory has developed two models that closely mimic the conditions in humans with the ultimate goal of combining targeted and immune therapies.
Click here to read the full interview in our partner journal Melanoma Management.