A “Biomarker” for Conjunctival Melanoma

The COMS Study

What causes conjunctival melanoma (CoM)? Because of its rarity, much about CoM is unknown. Current medicine has yet to truly pinpoint any underlying genetic factors affecting CoM. In fact, no molecular drivers have been clearly defined in association with metastasis, recurrence prognosis, cell type, or other characteristic factors of CoM. In response to this gap in literature, a large multi-center study was launched. Over a dozen eye cancer centers collaborated in order to determine biomarkers that may indicate risk for metastasis or tumor growth.

With access to a large sample of nearly 100 patients from eight different eye cancer centers around the world, the researchers behind this study sought to clearly define key biomarkers of CoM metastatic risk, and to correlate these biomarkers to clinical features and outcomes. This association of molecular indicator to clinical feature would ultimately help treatment providers identify patients who are at greater risk for metastasis, and help researchers identify possible molecular targets for therapy.

At the conclusion of this study, it was found that in deletion mutations in a gene region called “chr10” (normally consisting of tumor-suppressing genes) significantly correlated with metastasis, lymphatic invasion, and increasing tumor thickness.

This study was the first to characterize chromosomal copy number alterations (CNAs) in such depth and with such a large and well-defined sample. The result is a more clearly-defined biomarker as a CoM risk factor than there has been in previous literature. The next plan of action with this newfound information, however, would be to apply this and other relevant research in order to further develop more effective therapies and accurate prognosis.

 

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Check out The Eye Cancer Foundation for more information on the latest eye cancer research, charitable accomplishments, and for more information on how to donate and support new research and education!


Trailblazing Eye Cancer Studies Presented at AAO 2017

 

As you may have heard in our previous blog, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2017 Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana was attended by noteworthy fellowship alumni from the Eye Cancer Foundation, as well as founder and executive director of the ECF, Dr. Paul T. Finger. Held from November 11th to 14th, AAO took place the day following the 2017 AAOOP Annual Meeting, where oral presentations were given by ECF Fellows Dr. Sonal Chaugule and Dr. Abhilasha Maheshwari.

Dr. Chagule spoke on her research regarding the efficiency of intravitreal steroids to treat radiation side-effects, while Dr. Maheshwari spoke on a 12-year study of patients treated with slotted plaque radiation therapy. To read more on AOOP 2017 presentations from these ECF fellows, click here.

At AAO 2017, hosted at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Dr. Sonal Chaugule, Dr. Ekatrina Semenova, and Dr. Nicole Scripsema presented ECF-sponsored research conducted under the guidance of Dr. Paul T. Finger at the New York Eye Cancer Center and at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Dr. Sonal, pictured below along Dr. Finger, presented two studies, the first titled “Regression patterns of Iris Melanoma after Palladium-103 Plaque Brachytherapy”. This study takes into account 50 iris melanoma patients who were closely evaluated following plaque brachytherapy with Palladium-103 as treatment. The results of this study underscored Palladium-103 as effective treatment for iris melanoma. After incisive evaluation, patients showed decreases in tumor size, tumor pigmentation, and more. These findings are particularly important to iris melanoma patients, who endure a rare condition in the already-rare family of cancers (iris melanoma patients are only 2-3% of eye cancer cases). To read more on this paper and its implications, click here.

Dr. Chaugule’s second presentation concerned her paper most-recently published in the Indian Journal of Opthalmology. Titled “Primary Topical Chemotherapy for Giant Ocular Surface Squamous Neoplasia”, this paper examines and reports the outcomes of using topical chemotherapy eye drops (such as 5-Flurouracil and/or Interferon alpha-2b) to treat giant ocular surface squamous neoplasia. The paper was featured in a past blog post — to read more on the study, which evaluated 10 patients with stage T3 tumors, click here.

 

Details from AAO do not stop here! Stay tuned for more exciting news on the work ECF Fellows make towards eye cancer research by keeping eyecancer.com in your bookmarks!


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