Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Drug may slow spread of deadly eye cancer

29.11.2011
A drug commonly used to treat seizures appears to make eye tumors less likely to grow if they spread to other parts of the body, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Their findings are available online in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.


A look at aggressive uveal melanoma cells under the microscope. These tumor calls carry the so-called "class 2 signature," meaning they are likely to be aggressive and spread outside of the eye. J. William Harbour, MD

Uveal melanoma, the second most common form of melanoma, can be very aggressive and spread, or metastasize, from the eye to other organs, especially the liver.

“Melanoma in general, and uveal melanoma in particular, is notoriously difficult to treat once it has metastasized and grown in a distant organ,” says principal investigator J. William Harbour, MD. “We previously identified an aggressive class 2 molecular type of uveal melanoma that, in most cases, already has metastasized by the time the eye cancer is diagnosed, even though imaging the body can’t detect it yet. This microscopic amount of cancer can remain dormant in the liver and elsewhere for several years before it begins to grow and becomes lethal.”

Once this happens, the prospects for survival are poor, according to Harbour, the Paul A. Cibis Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and professor of cell biology and of molecular oncology. He also directs the Center for Ocular Oncology at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

Harbour’s new study shows that drugs known as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors alter the conformation of the DNA of the aggressive form of uveal melanoma, which changes the way key genes are expressed, rendering the tumor cells less aggressive.

“We looked at uveal melanoma cells in the laboratory and in an animal model, and we found that HDAC inhibitors can block the growth and proliferation of tumor cells,” he says. “HDAC inhibitors appear to reverse the aggressive molecular signature that we had identified several years ago as a marker for metastatic death. When we look at aggressive melanoma cells under the microscope after treatment with HDAC inhibitors, they look more like normal cells and less like tumor cells.”

Because HDAC inhibitors already are on the market, Harbour says he thinks it may be possible to quickly begin testing the drugs in patients with aggressive forms of uveal melanoma.

The drugs have relatively mild side effects that are not as severe as those seen in patients undergoing chemotherapy. One HDAC inhibitor, for example, is the anti-seizure drug valproic acid. Its most common side effect is drowsiness, which is typical of all HDAC inhibitors.

Clinical trials of HDAC inhibitors could begin in the next six to 12 months, Harbour says. Already, other researchers have applied for funding to begin testing an HDAC inhibitor called SAHA (suberoylanilide hydroxic acid) in patients with metastatic uveal melanoma.

“I think this is a reasonable place to start in the challenging effort to improve survival in patients with metastatic uveal melanoma,” Harbour says. “I suspect that the best role for HDAC inhibitors will be to slow or prevent the growth of tumor cells that have spread out of the eye but cannot yet be detected. This might lengthen the time between the original eye treatment and the appearance of detectable cancer in the liver and elsewhere.”

Like the chicken pox virus that lives for years in nerve cells without affecting health, Harbour says treatment with HDAC inhibitors may allow patients with aggressive melanomas to live for many years without any detectable spread of their disease.

Harbour and his colleagues previously developed a screening test to predict whether the cancer would be likely to spread to the liver and other parts of the body. The test is helpful because although less than 4 percent of patients with uveal melanoma have detectable metastatic disease, up to half will eventually die of metastasis even after successful treatment of the tumor with radiation, surgery, or, in the worst cases, removal of the eye.

Tumors that tend to remain contained within the eye are called class 1 uveal melanomas. With a needle biopsy, doctors can quickly determine whether a tumor is likely to be a class 1 cancer or whether it carries a molecular signature that identifies it as a high-risk, class 2 melanoma. Harbour’s team developed a test to identify the class 2 molecular signature, and that test is now being used around the world to detect the aggressive form of uveal melanoma.

In addition, Harbour’s team published a paper last year in the journal Science identifying a mutation in a gene called BAP-1 that helped further explain why some eye tumors develop the class 2 signature and acquire the ability to spread. Harbour explains that HDAC inhibitors appear to reverse some of the effects of BAP-1 mutations on the melanoma cell.

Landreville S, Agapova OA, Matatall KA, Kneass ZT, Onken MD, Lee RS, Bowcock AM, Harbour JW. Histone dacetylase inhibitors induce growth arrest and differentiation in uveal melanoma. Clinical Cancer Research, available online at: doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-0946

Funding for this research comes from a Fonds de la Recherche en Sante du Quebec Postdoctoral Training Award, the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, and the National Cancer Institute, the National Eye Institute the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and by the Horncrest Foundation and Research to Prevent Blindness.

J. William Harbour and Washington University may receive income based on a license of related technology by the university to Castle Biosciences Inc. This study was not supported by Castle Biosciences Inc.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Caroline Arbanas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University

nachricht The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>