Gran Fondo rider discovers skin cancer drug plan

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State University says a breakthrough on skin cancer treatment research is thanks to the Gran Fondo cycling event.

The Gran Fondo has been held in downtown Grand Rapids for each of the last six years. All proceeds go to skin cancer awareness, prevention and research programs at MSU’s College of Human Medicine.

It allowed Sean Misek, an Ph.D. candidate at MSU, to make a discovery that could help more people beat the most deadly form of skin cancer.

“We’re looking at the toolkit of drugs that oncologists have at their disposal right now that may or may not be used to treat melanoma right now and then figuring out which of those we can repurpose to treat a different cancer type,” he said.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 192,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. Misek discovered a combination of drugs that could help those with drug-resistant melanoma.

He’s humble about what he found in a lab in East Lansing.

“Certainly not all patients will benefit from this, but it suggests that a subset of patients may benefit from these drug combinations,” he explained.

Misek’s contribution wasn’t just in the lab, though — it was also on the road. He has ridden in the Gran Fondo for the last three years.

“I ride in it because I think it’s great to be surrounded by people who are also passionate about skin cancer research and coming up with new treatments for skin cancer,” Misek said.

The Gran Fondo is also a way to spread the word about research and why it’s important.

Misek said at least some of the helpful drugs identified in his research are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which will help in the next step.

“This really helps us get some ideas off the ground and then hopefully we’ll be able to get more support to work on this in the future as well all because of the Gran Fondo,” Misek said.

Registration for next year’s Gran Fondo opens in January. It will be held on June 27, 2020.

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