Experimental immunotherapy for eye cancer improves survival in early trials

Enhancing the immune system’s attack against melanoma.

macro eye black and white with black copy space. Letterbox.
Macro eye black and white with black copy space. Letterbox. Image: iStock

In a small trial of patients with advanced metastatic uveal melanoma, Columbia scientists performed an experimental immunotherapy IMCgp100 and found that it could increase their survival rate for one year.

The immunotherapy is specially designed with the purpose of enhancing the immune system’s attack against melanoma.

Ophthalmic oncologist Brian Marr, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of the ophthalmic oncology service at CUIMC said, “The outlook for patients with metastatic uveal melanoma, the most common type of eye cancer, is dismal. The one-year survival rate is approximately 40 percent, and no therapy has meaningfully improved outcomes in over 50 years.”

The study was conducted in two phase. In 1st study, IMCgp100 was given to patients with melanoma, including those with advanced uveal melanoma, who had previously received anti-cancer treatment.

In the 2nd study, patients with advanced uveal melanoma who had already gotten treatment were given IMCgp100 utilizing an alternate dosing regimen.

Among 35 patients in the two investigations with cutting-edge uveal melanoma, the general one-year survival rate was 73 percent, almost twofold the survival rate of what has already been observed. The most widely recognized reactions of treatment were rash, itchy skin, and swelling.

The results were presented at ARVO 2018, the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, by Richard Carvajal, MD, associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of experimental therapeutics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Carvajal said, “A 73 percent one-year overall survival rate in heavily pre-treated patients is quite notable, and we are excited about the continued development of IMCgp100 for patients with this disease.”