Uveal Melanoma

Uveal melanoma (UM) is the most common tumor of the adult eye.  Although the primary tumor is highly treatable, approximately half of the affected patients already possess micro-metastases within the liver.  These liver metastases are completely resistant to treatment, including targeted therapies and immunotherapies that work for cutaneous melanoma, and thus are typically fatal. The Lees Lab has developed zebrafish models of UM, which are driven by constitutively active GNAQ or GNA11 mutants that drive initiation of the vast majority of human UM.  We are using these zebrafish models, along with genetically engineered human UM cell lines, to study the disease.  Ongoing projects include:

  • Determining the molecular mechanisms that promote UM development and progression, and
  • Identifying vulnerabilities that could serve as potential targets of therapy. 

Histology of a uveal melanoma tumor in a zebrafish.