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Identifying biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets in uveal melanoma.

Uveal melanoma (UM) is an orphan cancer despite being the most common eye tumor in adults. Patients often present to skin cancer centers for treatment of metastatic disease although there are significant genetic, biological, and clinical differences from cutaneous melanoma. The treatments most commonly used for metastatic UM are tebentafusp and combined immune checkpoint blockade, both of which yield low response rates and may be accompanied by high treatment costs and significant immune-related toxicities. Thus, it is of paramount importance to identify biomarkers and clinical profiles predictive of treatment response and to find novel therapeutic targets. The use of immune checkpoint blockade showed more favorable outcomes in patients with extrahepatic disease and normal levels of serum lactate dehydrogenase in a panel of retrospective studies, making its use more reasonable in this subgroup. To identify novel drug targets, we will analyze the expression and relevance of neural crest transcription factors in patient bio-specimens using next-generation nanopore sequencing. Computer algorithms and network-based analysis will facilitate the identification of druggable targets which will subsequently be validated in patient-derived short-term cell cultures. This approach will help to find novel and personalized treatments for UM.

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