Breast cancer drug may hold key to tackling most deadly type of melanoma
23 July 2019
Barbara Holland tried everything to stop headaches for months before her doctor sent her for an MRI. Her scans showed a tumour in her sinus
Mucosal melanoma, which occurs on the inner surfaces of the body such as the mouth, nose and anogenital region and
Now, an Australian-led international team of researchers has discovered that a drug traditionally used to treat a
The international study, led by researchers from Melanoma Institute Australia, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and The University of Sydney as part of the Australian Melanoma Genome Project, has uncovered the diverse genetic drivers for mucosal melanoma
Lead study author Professor Richard Scolyer, Co-Medical Director Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital says the study allowed researchers to not only look for new drug targets, but
“We now understand the genetic drivers of mucosal
“The ramifications of this study are immense and are critical in us reaching our goal of zero deaths from melanoma.”
Published online at Nature Communications, the study detailed the genetic analysis of 67 mucosal melanoma tumours from patients from Australia, China, the United States and Europe. Using both whole-genome sequencing and whole-
“While advancements in treatment have drastically improved survival outcomes for cutaneous (or skin) melanoma patients, those treatments do not work as well for mucosal melanoma patients,” Professor Scolyer added.
“But now we can build our treatment arsenal for this group of patients
The study also found
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” said Barbara.
“This news is so exciting for other mucosal patients and their families.
While rare in Western populations like in Australia, where it makes up less than 2% of all melanoma cases, mucosal melanoma makes up a third
A previous study also coming from the Australian Melanoma Genome Project found that mucosal melanoma
There are no known risk factors for mucosal melanoma, making prevention strategies difficult. It
“The next exciting step is for Melanoma Institute Australia to develop a clinical trial to test classes of drugs and their effectiveness for treating mucosal melanoma,” said study author Professor Georgina Long, Co-Medical Director Melanoma Institute Australia The University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital
“This is the new frontier in melanoma treatment, with very real benefits for patients internationally, and we are proud to be leading the world in saving lives.”
Barbara is no longer on treatment and comes to MIA for three monthly scans.
“It’s amazing to know that there could soon be new treatments for this horrible disease. I think the best part about this discovery is that it gives hope,” said Barbara.
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“I had a complete response within about six months. All of my tumours disappeared."
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