15 Nov Blood Biomarker Can Help Distinguish Malignant from Benign Ocular Moles
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Mitchell Stark, B.App.Sc (Hons), PhD
NHMRC Research Fellow
The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Uveal nevi (moles) mimic the appearance of uveal melanoma and their transformation potential cannot be definitively determined without a biopsy. Moles or naevi in the eye are common but can be difficult to monitor because changes to their shape or colouring can’t always be seen as easily as on the skin. As naevi are difficult to biopsy, they are usually “monitored” at regular intervals. If there is a melanoma in the eye, then outcomes are poor for people if their cancer spreads to the liver.
This study aimed to identify a “biomarker” that could be measured in patients’ blood that could be used as an early indicator of melanoma formation (from a mole) or progression to other body sites.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: In this research, blood samples were collected from people with either benign naevi or melanoma in the back of their eye, in addition to a small number of metastasised cases. The samples were then tested against the panel of microRNA biomarkers to distinguish the stage of disease.
The biomarker panel measured in blood could distinguish a melanoma from a naevus with high sensitivity (93%) and specificity (100%).
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Results from this study are promising and a step in the right direction. Many people are not aware that melanoma can form in the eye. It is also important to note that melanoma of the eye is very different to melanoma of the skin and is not caused by sun exposure. At present, the precise causes are not well understood. The key take home message from this study is that early detection is the key to enable treatment and to prevent spread. Since this blood test is not yet available, regularly eye checks by your optical specialist is recommend.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Prior to clinical implementation of this blood test, plans are afoot to conduct a multi-centre clinical trial to robustly assess the clinical utility of these biomarkers.
Mitchell S. Stark et al, A Panel of Circulating MicroRNAs Detects Uveal Melanoma With High Precision, Translational Vision Science & Technology (2019). DOI: 10.1167/tvst.8.6.12
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Last Updated on November 15, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD