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Drug shows promise for the first time against metastatic melanoma of the eye
Date:6/19/2014

NEW YORK, NY (June 19, 2014) For the first time, a therapy has been found that can delay progression of metastatic uveal melanoma, a rare and deadly form of melanoma of the eye.

Results from a multicenter clinical trial show that a new drug called selumetinib increases progression-free survival, the length of time during and after treatment that a patient with metastases lives with the disease without it progressing. The findings were published today in the online edition of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Although the effects of the drug were modest, we now know that we can influence the course of the disease, and we expect to build on this success with other drugs, including some already in development," said senior author, Gary K. Schwartz, MD, professor of medicine and chief of hematology/oncology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and associate director of its Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. (At the time of the trial, Dr. Schwartz was chief of the melanoma and sarcoma service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.)

Uveal melanoma is a cancer of the iris, ciliary body, or choroidstructures in the eye collectively known as the uvea. Uveal melanoma (which is biologically distinct from skin melanoma) arises from the uvea's melanocytes, the pigment cells that give the eye its color. Once the disease has spreadmost metastases appear in the liverexisting treatments are largely ineffective. About 1,500 cases of uveal melanoma occur in the United States each year, usually among older adults. The median survival rate for patients with metastatic uveal melanoma is 12 months.

Several years ago, researchers found that 80 percent of patients with uveal melanoma had mutations to GNAQ or GNA11, genes that activate signals in the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Dr. Schwartz and others subsequently demonstrated that inhibition of M
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Contact: Karin Eskenazi
Ket2116@columbia.edu
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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