Clinical trial success treating Ocular Melanoma

Clinical trial success treating Ocular Melanoma

24 May 2021

Ocular Melanoma is rare and until now has had no curative treatment. But a new experimental treatment is being trialled here at St Vincent's with positive results.

Approximately 150 Australians are diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma annually, with a high mortality rate following the spread of the disease to other parts of the body.

With traditionally few treatment options and limited success in treating this kind of cancer, St Vincent’s Oncology took on the first Australian clinical trial of the immunotherapy drug, Tebentafusp, which has been found to improve overall survival rates for patients with metastatic ocular melanoma in clinical trials overseas.

Tebentafusp works by helping immune cells get close enough to cancer cells to attack them. ““It’s like velcro between the tumour and the immune system, such that the immune system is activated to attack the tumour” Head of Oncology, Professor Anthony Joshua said.

To date the trials have shown a 50% reduction of the risk of deaths in patients with metastasised ocular melanoma.

“It’s the first type of drug we know can help these patients who are otherwise facing a lethal disease”, said Prof Joshua. It's spectacularly rewarding. It's one of the reasons I went into oncology, to help people live longer and live better."

St Vincent's Hospital is the only site delivering the treatment in NSW.



A/Prof Anthony Joshua talks to 9 News about the St Vincent's Ocular Melanoma clinical trial.