Research to Prevent Blindness

Hope through Research: Ocular Cancer

Researchers funded by RPB are identifying new treatment strategies that help preserve the eye and vision in ocular cancers. In some cases, their findings are leading to new understandings of the workings of other cancers, and new ways of intervening in the disease process.


Discoveries related to causes of ocular cancer

  •  According to an RPB-sponsored report: up to six percent of common pterygium growths (fleshy tissue on the surface of the eye caused by excessive sun exposure) may contain cancer precursor cells, even though clinical signs of such cell growth are absent.
  • Researchers are learning how certain genes, growth factors, and cells that suppress the immune system contribute to the growth and spread of tumors in uveal melanoma. (Abstract 1, Abstract 2, Abstract 3) .
  • Potential targets for new therapies for ocular cancers lie in the discovery of proteins that control cancer cell death and genetic mutations that alter cell responses to injury. (Abstract 1, Abstract 2, Abstract 3)
  • Researchers have identified proteins and cancer stem cells responsible for tumor growth and resistance to chemotherapy in retinoblastoma. (Abstract 1, Abstract 2,)
  • The identification of genes that modify disease risk in children with retinoblastoma allows for better prediction of disease progression and more tailored treatments.

Developments in the diagnosis of ocular cancer

  • A new test evaluates the likelihood of ocular melanoma spreading to the liver and helps determine treatment strategies. (Abstract) [broken link, delete?]

Breakthroughs in drug treatment of ocular cancer

  • Scientists have created new drugs and antibodies that reduce the growth and spread of uveal melanoma to the liver. (Abstract)
  • Retinoblastoma tumor size was significantly reduced by a drug that stops the blood supply to tumor cells. (Abstract) [broken link, delete?]
  • A new chemotherapy combination has slowed the progression of retinoblastoma while reducing the risk of secondary cancers. (Abstract)

Advances in other therapies for ocular cancer

  • An improved radiation technique appears effective for treating extra large tumors in some patients, avoiding the need for surgery. (Abstract 1, Abstract 2)
  • A technique for killing cancer cells by freezing them with extreme cold (cryotherapy) proves effective in treating eye tumors and preserving vision.


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