And then... A European research program
A European H2020 grant on uveal melanoma
As no effective treatment for the metastatic disease exists at the moment, the overall goal of the "UM Cure 2020” project, by increasing the knowledge in uveal melanoma metastases, is to identify and validate at the preclinical level novel therapeutic approaches for their treatment, up to the initiation of UM-dedicated clinical trials sponsored by academia or pharma. For this purpose the Consortium, led by Dr. Sergio Roman-Roman, Head of Institut Curie’s Department of Translational Research, brings together the major experts of uveal melanoma in both patient care and basic/translational/clinical research, and in particular several European Centres of Excellence in clinical Ocular Oncology, as well as the patient organisation Melanoma Patient Network Europe and the two biotech companies PamGene and PEP-Therapy with expertise in biomarkers and early clinical development, respectively.
The “UM Cure 2020” consortium includes (amongst others) pathologists, oncologists and surgeons from Institut Curie, including Laurence Desjardins (head of unit of Ophthalmology), Sophie Piperno-Neumann (Department of Oncology), Nathalie Cassoux (head of Department of Surgical Oncology), but also from other centres like Sarah Coupland (Liverpool, UK), Martine Jager (Leiden, The Netherlands), Bozena Romanowska (Krakow, Poland), as well as basic and translational researchers in the field among whom the following Institut Curie researchers, Marc-Henri Stern, Marie Schoumacher, Didier Decaudin, Olivier Lantz, and Richard Marais (Manchester, UK), and the Champalimaud Foundation (Lisbon, Portugal).
A program to understand how do metastases form
Institut Curie is also starting a research programme, a PIC3i, financed by its own funds and to a large extent by the generosity of the general public. The goal is to decode a new method of tumour dissemination in uveal melanoma.
"We now suspect the existence of another method of dissemination for this cancer", reports Filippo Del Bene, Inserm director of research and head of the Neuronal Circuit Development team (CNRS/Inserm/Institut Curie) and coordinator of this programme. In skin melanoma, Claire Lugassy and Raymond Barnhill (Institut Curie) showed the existence of another pathway for metastases by progressive migration of cancer cells along the external wall of vessels (angiotropism), without entering the blood stream. They called it "extravascular metastatic migration", unlike intravascular dissemination. Recently, these same researchers, pioneers of extravascular migration, proved that this method of propagation may also exist in choroidal melanomas.