Uveal melanoma, which arises from melanocytes residing in the stroma, is the most common primary intraocular tumor in adults. Up to 50% of patients with primary uveal melanoma will ultimately develop distant metastasis, the liver being involved in up to 90% of individuals and the median survival reported to be 4-5 months. The current treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma is limited by the lack of effective systemic therapy. The intrinsic resistance of uveal melanoma to conventional systemic chemotherapy has led researchers to evaluate new approaches. Molecular biology and a better knowledge of cancer cells allowed the development of target therapies: these refer to drugs designed to interact with a specific molecular pathway known to have a critical role in tumor growth or progression. Several drugs, such as bevacizumab, imatinib and MEK-inhibitors, are currently under investigation as single agents or in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma. Finally, ipilimumab, which targets the immune compartment, was reported to increase overall survival in cutaneous melanoma patients, with preliminary evidence of similar activity in ocular melanoma.
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