Texas Retina Associates is pleased to announce its participation in a groundbreaking new Phase II clinical trial for the treatment of small choroidal (ocular) melanoma. Together with Aura Biosciences, we are investigating the safety and efficacy of AU-011, a light-activated viral nanoparticle, in the treatment of this rare and often deadly cancer.

Texas Retina Associates was the first in the nation to begin enrolling in this new trial, and Principal Investigator Timothy Fuller, MD, was the first in the nation to treat a patient with AU-011 delivered via suprachoroidal injection. Aura’s previous Phase Ib/II trial investigated delivery of the drug in the vitreous, or “gel” of the eye, similar to more traditional injection techniques, while the current Phase II trial is investigating what shows promise to be a more efficacious manner to target this type of melanoma. Following injection, the tumor is treated with a special ophthalmic laser to activate the viral nanoparticles to selectively destroy the tumor. All of this is done in an outpatient, office-based setting.

For decades, the standard of care for all choroidal melanoma had been eye removal (enucleation), until the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study (COMS) came about in the 1980s. These multi-center, randomized controlled trials, also pioneered at Texas Retina Associates by Principal Investigator Dwain Fuller, MD, showed the efficacy of treating choroidal melanoma with radiation treatment (known as plaque brachytherapy). While brachytherapy revolutionized how this type of cancer is treated, it unfortunately almost always comes with vision loss. With AU-011, we are investigating the potential to treat this deadly disease with less harmful effects on vision. AU-011 has been shown in prior studies to selectively destroy cancer membrane cells while sparing the overlying retina, a tissue essential for good vision.

It is important for all people to have regular dilated eye exams to screen for suspicious lesions and ocular melanoma. While the disease is more likely to affect those with lighter skin and eyes, it has been seen in patients of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Talk to your comprehensive eye care provider or Texas Retina physician if you have any questions. Click here for details on this clinical trial as well as a full listing of our current clinical trials.