Dr. D. Paola Arteaga – 2020 Recipient of the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund Award For Research

The David Cornfield Melanoma Fund is proud to celebrate Dr. D. Paola Arteaga as the recipient of the 2020 David Cornfield Melanoma Fund Award for research.

The DCMF Award was jointly established by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund and the University of Toronto to support and advance melanoma research. The DCMF Award is available to residents and fellows in the Department of Medicine and students at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health who have demonstrated special interest and research achievements in the field of melanoma. 

Dr. Arteaga’s research focuses on the variability of response rate and its association with clinical outcomes in patients treated with immunotherapy in advanced uveal melanoma. 

Melanoma can affect the skin, mucous membranes, ocular region and rarely from unknown primary sites. In the eye, tumours arise from the pigment cells (melanocytes) that reside with the uvea and give colour to the eye. 

Uveal melanoma is the most common primary intraocular malignancy in adults, with a 40% risk of developing metastatic disease at 10 years. Despite high rates of local tumour control in patients who are treated for uveal melanoma, most patients will eventually die from metastasis. 

In spite of the fact that immunotherapy is approved for patients with metastatic uveal melanoma, the patterns of response to the current available treatments are discouraging. The rates of response to checkpoint inhibitors with single agent anti PD-1 and combination of anti PD-1 + anti CTLA-4 are 5 and 15% respectively. In addition, the median overall survival is 14 months for anti PD-1 and 16 months for anti PD-1 + anti CTLA -4. 

As per these patterns of response showing that the majority of patients have stable disease and/or progressive disease, Dr. Arteaga hypothesized that the subgroup of patients on checkpoint inhibitors that per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) v1.1 showed progressive disease (PD) or stable disease (SD) have a variability in overall outcomes that need to elucidated. 

With the MONITR study, Dr. Arteaga is analyzing a retrospective cohort of patients with uveal melanoma treated with immune therapy and categorizing them according to the response rate in PD, DS and partial response (PR ) to determine the association with overall survival (OS) and progression free survival (PFS). In addition to exploratory correlations with immune biomarkers and circulating tumour DNA analysis. 


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