A team of scientists from Australia published a study in the journal Clinical Cancer Research that shows their new discovery of a prototype test that can help identify if patients with deadly metastasised melanoma are likely to benefit from immunotherapy.
Australian researchers from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute conducted the study. Details about the test and the research have been published on Monday (local time) in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
The prototype test detects levels of the protein LC3B on cancer cells. High levels of LC3B are associated with better patient responses to a form of treatment known as checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy.
Metastatic melanoma is a very aggressive disease and according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1,375 Australians died from it in 2020.
Most patients undergo surgery and almost all patients with metastatic melanoma are now given immunotherapy as a standard frontline treatment.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Jason Lee, who heads QIMR Berghofer’s Epigenetics and Disease group, said immunotherapies have remarkably improved treatment and survival rates for metastatic melanoma, but more than half of all patients do not respond.
“We need to treat these patients quickly and with the correct kinds of drugs to have any success,” Lee said.
“Our study found patients with high levels of LC3B in their tumour cells had significantly longer survival due to better responses to immunotherapy treatment than those with lower levels. The study showed 95 percent of patients with high LC3B levels were alive after 3 years, compared to 60 percent of patients with low LC3B levels.”