Accelerating The Route Towards Metastatic Uveal Melanoma Diagnosis And Treatment
Dr Valentina Tonelotto
Dr Valentina Tonelotto was awarded an IRC Enterprise Partnership Scheme Post-Doctoral award 2022. Dr Tonelotto will work in the lab of Prof Breandan Kennedy in UCD. The full title of her research is: ACCELERATING THE ROUTE TOWARDS METASTATIC UVEAL MELANOMA DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: CYSTEINYL LEUKOTRIENE RECEPTOR SIGNALLING & UVEAL MELANOMA EXTRACELLULAR VESICLES AS NOVEL THERAPEUTIC TARGETS AND BIOMARKERS.
This research investigates the disease relevance and therapeutic potential of a protein called “cysteinyl leukotriene receptors (CysLT)” in uveal melanoma (UM). UM is a cancer arising within the eye, which frequently spreads to the liver, with up to 50% of patients developing metastatic UM (MUM). Unfortunately, once MUM occurs, patient prognosis is extremely poor with as few as 8% of patients surviving beyond two years. No effective therapies are available for MUM. Prof Kennedy’s group has recently identified that increased levels of these receptors in UM tumours is associated with reduced patient survival. In preclinical models, drugs targeting CysLT receptors were seen to have an effect on UM cell growth and other hallmarks of cancer. Valentina will investigate whether drugs specific to CysLT receptors block the growth of UM in the liver. She will do this on patient samples and on pre-clinical mouse models of liver UM. She will also investigate patient bloods to identify factors associated with better/worse patient survival and to reveal new therapeutic targets for UM. Together, these novel studies will evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of CysLT drugs and allow me to stratify patients most likely to benefit from this intervention.
You can hear more about Valentina’s research by playing the video below