MACULA Conference 2022 Part 5: Viral-like Particles for the Treatment of Uveal Melanoma

Linnet Rodriguez, MD
Virginia Commonwealth University

Day 2 of the Atlantic Coast Retina Club/Macula 2022 concluded with a session moderated by Dr. Jose S. Pulido. A very interesting and promising topic about uveal melanoma treatment was presented by Dr. Ivana K. Kim from Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

According to Dr. Kim this novel treatment for uveal melanoma utilizes a drug composed of virus-like drug conjugates to target tumor cells. This first-in-class drug is currently known as AU-011 and has been evaluated for intravitreal delivery in ocular melanoma and suprachoroidal injection in nonclinical studies as well.

The drug consists of viral nanoparticle conjugates that bind selectively to modified heparin sulfate proteoglycans that are upregulated in tumors. Photoactivation 6-8 hours is needed for drug activation in order to cause tumor cell necrosis.

Based on the data presented, there was a significant reduction in tumor growth rate, moderate tumor control rate, and good visual acuity preservation in patients treated with AU-011. The safety profile appeared to be acceptable and manageable. The main adverse effects were elevation of intraocular pressure, inflammation and pigmentary changes.

Dr. Kim also mentioned that suprachoroidal delivery is being investigated as a potential way to deliver AU-011. This administration route appears to result in a better therapeutic index with higher drug levels in the tumor and lower drug levels in the vitreous. As a result, preliminary safety profile seems to be superior to the intravitreal route. In addition, suprachoroidal delivery may not cause significant vitritis or pigmentary changes. However, the ideal route of administration is still to be determined. We all look forward to seeing the results in the near future.

We at RETINA Roundup thank you for joining us in following the fascinating case presentations during Atlantic Coast Retina Club and the educational scientific talks and discussions during Macula 2022. The meeting concluded with final words from Arunan Sivalingam, and the torch was passed onto Dean Eliott – next year’s meeting will be hosted by the Boston programs.