University of Queensland Researchers Discover Biomarkers For Eye Melanoma, Leading To New Diagnostic Blood Tests
University of Queensland medical scientists have discovered markers in the blood that can differentiate between a benign mole and a melanoma
, while also identifying if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. By identifying the biomarkers, the team has developed a new simple blood tests that could be the latest diagnostic standard for the early detection of melanoma
in the eye
Dr. Mitchell Stark from University of Queensland Diamantina Institute's said the blood test could monitor very early signs of the disease.He told Thailand Medical
News via a phone interview, ”This blood test was able to detect the difference between a benign mole located at the back of the eye
and a melanoma
in the eye
.The test also has the potential to show if the melanoma
has metastasised and spread to other areas of the body.”
He added, "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.Outcomes are poor for people with melanoma
in their eye
if their cancer spreads to the liver. Given that having naevi in the eye
is fairly common, this test may allow us to better screen these patients for early signs of melanoma
The new study is a progression of research conducted by Dr. Stark at QIMR Berghofer, where the panel of biomarkers
was first developed and used to detect melanoma
on the skin.
The team for this research collected blood samples 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.
Dr. Mitchell Stark said after further development, the blood test had the potential to be used as a monitoring tool in conjunction with optometrists
, GPs, and specialists.
He further commented to Thailand Medical
News, "If someone went to their optometrist for a regular check-up and a mole was found, you could have this blood test at each routine visit to help monitor mole changes.If the biomarker
in the blood had increased, it might be an early warning sign of melanoma
. Knowing this patient was high-risk means they could be monitored more closely for the potential spread of cancer and be progressed more rapidly through the healthcare system."
Queensland Ocular Oncology Service Director and ophthalmologist Dr. Bill Glasson AO said the test would be extremely helpful in clinical practice. He told Thailand Medical
News, "These research findings a
re exciting for our patients with ocular tumours. It will allow for earlier diagnosis as well as giving doctors an earlier indication of the development of metastatic disease and importantly, a better outcome for our patients."
The blood tests will be available commercially in Australia by early 2020 but pending further trials and regulatory measures, will be in Europe in late 2020 and in the US by 2022.
Reference: 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