Melanoma of the Eye Caused by Two Gene Mutations

“Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a therapeutic target for treating the most common form of eye cancer in adults. They have also, in experiments with mice, been able to slow eye tumor growth with an existing FDA-approved drug.

“The findings are published online in the May 29 issue of the journal Cancer Cell.

” ‘The beauty of our study is its simplicity,’ said Kun-Liang Guan, PhD, professor of pharmacology at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and co-author of the study. ‘The genetics of this cancer are very simple and our results have clear implications for therapeutic treatments for the disease.’ “

Editor’s note: More and more, oncologists are using molecular testing to look for genetic mutations that may allow a tumor to be fought with a drug targeted for a specific mutation. In this study of uveal melanoma, scientists found two mutated proteins that suggested a drug called verteporfin might be effective. They tested the drug in mice and found that it suppresses the growth of uveal melanoma tumors derived from human tumors. It will probably be a while before the treatment is okay-ed for use in humans, but the investigational process might be quicker than is usual for new treatments because verteporfin is already FDA-approved to treat another eye condition.