UPCI Lab Findings

Racing Towards Hope

In 2008, the Al Copeland Foundation its race to find a cure for Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) by partnering with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI). Since then, the Al Copeland Foundation has generously supported basic and translational research in the Cancer Virology laboratory of Drs. Chang and Moore, two physicians who first identified MCC as a new human cancer virus in 2008.

Funding from the Al Copeland Foundation has enabled UPCI to dramatically improve the world’s understanding of the course and treatment of MCC, shifting it from a mysterious disease with no clear diagnostic criteria or effective treatment to having a clear viral etiology.

Finding the Finish Line

Through these compounding findings, progress has since been made on detecting individuals at risk, testing for diagnosis, and most notably finding effective treatments against this form of cancer. The progress made within the Chang-Moore laboratory is evidenced by over 20 published papers found in prominent scientific journals worldwide. These include: 

Development of diagnostic antibodies to detect the Merkel Cell Polyomavirus (MCV) in MCC
Identification of MCV viral proteins that directly transform healthy cells into cancer cells
Establishment of blood tests to detect infection by MCV
Elucidation of normal cellular pathways hijacked by MCV to promote tumor outgrowth
Identification of a drug effective for treating MCC in an MCC mouse model

If you would like to read more about Dr. Chang, click here.