Group Leader: Associate Professor Max Conway
Ocular melanoma is the most common primary eye cancer in adults. Extraocular or conjunctival melanoma are less common than uveal melanoma, although local recurrences are likely, associated with spread to both regional lymph nodes and systemically.
As well as loss of vision or loss of an eye related to the disease itself or therapy, the prognosis for both types of ocular melanoma is often poor and the treatment options are very limited.
Systemic metastases remain the main cause of early death in all types of ocular melanoma. Metastatic tumours grow rapidly, are resistant to conventional chemotherapy and are usually fatal within 12 months. The need for alternative approaches in treating primary, locally recurrent and metastatic ocular melanoma is thus critical.
On the basis of preliminary studies investigating the mechanisms controlling cycling and factors such as proteinases that are important for tumour invasion, we examined the potential for HDAC inhibitors to control in primary and recurrent ocular melanoma. We are now undertaking transitional studies in vitro with these agents in combination with standard chemotherapy agents and other novel treatment approaches.
Current studies are being conducted at Save Sight Institute Laboratories and in relation to this we have developed strong collaboration with Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, NSW.
The cell culture studies include cell death analysis, drug-dose response, flow cytometry analysis and genetic profiling studies are underway. Preliminary results have been presented and are being prepared for publication. Master of Medicine and optometry students have been involved in this project. These studies have implications for future management trials of these agents as topical intraocular and/or combination therapies.
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