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New drug composition for uveal melanoma developed

CSIC has developed a pharmaceutical composition to treat uveal melanoma, a cancer that forms from melanin-producing cells in the eye. Although it has a low incidence, it is the most common eye cancer in adults. There are a few standard treatments for the primary tumour, but not for metastatic uveal melanoma of the eye.

Uveal melanoma is the most common primary intraocular malignancy in adults. It is characterised by the growth of cancer cells from the pigmented tissue of the eye called the uvea (iris, ciliary body and choroid). Hence its name. Picture: American Academy Oftalmology.

Uveal melanoma is classified as a rare disease, with an incidence of only 0.7 per 100,000 population.  This type of cancer develops metastases in half of the cases. It is estimated that 40% of patients may die from metastatic disease despite successful treatment of the primary tumour.

Although there is a large number of studies on this disease, there are not yet treatments that can offer a significant impact on survival. Therefore, it is necessary to find new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of uveal melanoma.

The drug composition developed by CSIC researchers at the Instituto de Instituto de Parasitología y Biomedicina "López - Neyra", in Granada, responds to the need to treat this pathology and to significantly reduce the progression and growth of this tumour. It also has a potential therapeutic use in cases of poor prognosis of uveal melanoma.

The formula consists of an anti-angiogenic agent, which inhibits or reduces the formation of new blood vessels, and an inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase FAK. FAK is involved in cellular mechanisms such as proliferation, motility and migration. Studies have shown its role in the process of aberrant vessel formation, which is necessary for tumour cell survival and tumour development.

The combination of the two inhibitors, say the researchers, "offers a significant antitumour effect against uveal melanoma by reducing its progression and growth", and offers greater efficacy than if they were administered individually.

The results have recently been industrially protected by patent.  The CSIC is looking for companies interested in developing and commercially exploiting the technology.


José Ramón Domínguez Solís
Deputy Vice-Presidency for
Knowledge Transfer -
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