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Prototype test for predicting clinical outcome for melanoma patients
Date:8/14/2008

Investigators from the Melbourne Center of the international Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) and Pacific Edge Biotchnology Ltd today reported that they have developed a test to predict whether a patient will progress rapidly from Stage III melanoma to metastatic Stage IV cancer and death.

More than 70% of patients with Stage III melanoma melanoma that has spread to the lymph nodes will typically have a rapid time to progression (TTP) to Stage IV melanoma, and pass away within five years of their diagnosis. However, the remaining <30% of patients will have a slow TTP to Stage IV and will have prolonged survival. Not being able to distinguish between these patient subtypes means that some patients might undergo aggressive, often toxic, treatments unnecessarily. The unpredictable and significant discrepancies in TTP and survival could also cloud the interpretation of results from clinical trials of new melanoma therapies.

The LICR Melbourne team, together with collaborators from Pacific Edge Biotechnology Limited in New Zealand, has developed a prototype test that can distinguish between these two patient subtypes with 85-90% accuracy. However, the team cautions that these findings must be validated in a larger number of patients before the test can be applied routinely as a prognostic tool.

According to the senior author of the study, LICR's Professor Jonathan Cebon, M.D., the predictive test could assist patients and their health care teams in making treatment decisions. Perhaps most importantly, being able to distinguish between the subtypes could have a tremendous impact on the development of new melanoma therapies. "One of the major problems we have in clinical trials for new melanoma therapies is that we can't identify the people who are going to have a slower disease progression no matter what they receive in a clinical trial," says Professor Cebon. "When new treatments are tested it is necessary to show clinical b
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Contact: Sarah L. White
swhite@licr.org
917-379-0398
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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