Wednesday 12 September 2018

£1.3M NIHR funding to develop an innovative prognostic test for Early Stage Cutaneous Melanoma

Professor Penny Lovat and her team have been awarded NIHR funding of £1.3M to carry out a project that looks to develop an innovative prognostic test for Early Stage Cutaneous Melanoma (AMLo).

Professor Penny Lovat, along with co-applicant, Professor Nick Reynolds (Deputy lead for Skin and Oral Disease theme with the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre) and a wider team of researchers have been successful in winning £1.3m of National Institute for Health Research Invention for innovation (i4i) funding.

i4i is a transnational funding scheme which advances healthcare technologies, devices and interventions for increased patient benefit in areas of existing or emerging clinical need.

Background to AMLo research

The incidence of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is increasing worldwide. Currently the risk of spread of the primary tumour is estimated by microscopic appearance and depth of the original tumour, which for patients diagnosed with thin and localised primary melanomas, is in general, associated with a favourable prognosis. However, approximately 10% of these tumours will spread resulting in extremely poor prospects for patients despite recent advances in chemo/immunotherapy and emphasising the acute need for new tests to accurately determine an individual’s risk of disease progression.

Research by Professor Lovat’s group has identified that the loss of two proteins, Ambra1 and loricrin (AMLo) in the skin overlying primary melanomas, predicts which early stage (AJCC stage I) tumours will metastasise with a high degree of accuracy. The group have validated this test in over 400 Stage I biopsies from patients with known clinical outcomes and through this NIHR i4i funding now aim to produce a prognostic kit to measure AMLo in melanoma biopsies which is suitable for large-scale manufacture and will fit seamlessly into existing processes for melanoma diagnosis.

Next steps

This multi-disciplinary project collaborates with AMLo Biosciences Ltd a recent spin out from Newcastle University and will include analysis of AMLo in differing patient cohorts from around the world, health economic assessment of its use in melanoma care pathways and the value to the NHS.