Cutaneous melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer with a rapidly increasing incidence rate. Worldwide in 2012 there were 232,000 new cases and 55,000 deaths. Currently patients are treated on the basis of disease prognosis, where prognosis is based on factors such as thickness of mole and family history of disease. These markers are not completely reliable and often patients are either overtreated: meaning they follow unnecessary surveillance programs and experience unrest due to perceived risk of cancer progression; or undertreated, meaning that the cancer progresses undetected. Two out of three patients who metastasize received a negative outcome from Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB).
Methylation of the promoter of lymphocyte antigen 75 (LY75) is a strong marker that predicts poor clinical outcome, independent of the currently used prognostic markers in an independent melanoma series. A test based on a patient’s own sample can thus determine if a patient has a poor prognosis. By determining a patient’s expected outcome, through a simple test performed by a pathologist, a different course of treatment (either more or less intensive) can be chosen.
MLA Diagnostics focusses on developing such a test, to improve the care path for patients with cutaneous melanoma. We are currently in the process of validation of this patented innovation.