Treatment and Uveal Melanoma
Did you know you can get melanoma in your eye? While less common than skin melanoma, eye melanomas tend to be more aggressive and lead to a poor patient survival rate. In contrast to skin melanomas—where early removal of the tumour where it first appears on the body is curable in around 95% of cases—50% of all eye melanomas will spread to other sites of the body despite removal of the primary tumour.
Unfortunately, once the tumour has spread, eye melanomas are fatal as there are currently no effective treatments available. In contrast, the promising treatments currently improving survival in late-stage skin melanomas are largely ineffective for eye melanomas, therefore new treatments are urgently needed to target this distinct melanoma subtype.
Dr Kelly Brooks is a postdoctoral scientist focused on understanding the unique characteristics of eye melanomas and is identifying ways to target these for the development of new treatments. The common gene defects that occur in eye melanomas are different to those of skin melanoma and the consequences of these defects are poorly understood. To address this, Dr Brooks is using cutting edge gene-editing technology, which she developed while training in the United Kingdom, to create models of specific gene defects present in eye melanomas.
These models will be of enormous value to the national and international research community and will help to provide the basic understanding and tools to identify the impact caused by these critical gene defects.
By understanding these defects, it will be possible to develop new drug strategies tailored towards treating eye melanomas, an outcome that is desperately needed for this disease.
'This work has the potential to provide one of the first treatment strategies specifically developed for eye melanomas with the potential to increase patient survival.'