What if you gathered many of the world’s most renowned melanoma researchers in one room and let them talk? In April 2011, AIM at Melanoma did just that. For three days in the Czech Republic city of Prague, 25 of the world’s leading experts in melanoma discussed how they could move the needle on the search for the cure.
The meeting was born out of frustrations about the lack of collaboration and communication among the world’s melanoma researchers and agreement on the need for an informal gathering of a relatively small group of melanoma experts to share data, discuss ideas, and plan collaboration—a meeting above and beyond the formal, presentation-style conferences that many researchers already attended. Additionally, there was a belief that researchers would benefit from interacting informally with pharmaceutical companies, and vice-versa, so a handful of industry partners were invited, too.
That inaugural meeting in 2011 was so successful the researchers asked that AIM not only commit to hosting it again, but that we host it bi-annually. We agreed, and the International Melanoma Working Group (IMWG) was born.
AIM continues to organize semi-annual IMWG meetings—the only global think tank in melanoma.
Current Focus of IMWG
The IMWG is focusing on two major research initiatives: the International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium (IMTBC) and the Melanoma International Collaboration for Adaptive Trials (MICAT).
Members of the IMWG have cited the lack of resources to acquire fresh-frozen primary tissue as a major hurdle in melanoma research, preventing extensive exploration of tumor progression, biological markers, and drug development. To address this major research deficit, IMWG has called for an international melanoma primary tumor tissue bank. In response, AIM at Melanoma has partnered with four medical research institutions across the United States and two international sites to create the International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium (IMTBC).
The IMWG also has advocated for an international adaptive platform trial to test new melanoma drugs and combinations. Adaptive clinical trial design allows for faster answers, greater precision, and, for patients, more success than standard clinical trials. By eliminating the need to initiate a large, lengthy, and costly trial for each drug possibility, adaptive trials will bring effective melanoma therapies to market faster. AIM at Melanoma and the IMWG have set in motion the framework for the first adaptive trial in melanoma, called MICAT.
Through the combination of scientific talent and tireless determination, IMWG will be the beginning of the end of the unforgiving burden on patients, families, caregivers, and healthcare professionals who battle melanoma every day.