The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved investigational new drug application of Modulation Therapeutics to commence human trial of its drug, MTI-201, to treat uveal melanoma.

Established in 2011, Modulation is a West Virginia University (WVU)-based start-up firm that focuses on the early discovery and development of translational therapies.

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The company was jointly founded by WVU Cancer Institute basic research associate director Lori Hazlehurst and WVU Cancer Institute researcher Mark McLaughlin.

Researchers are now developing a cancer therapy that targets the diseased cells with greater precision, without impacting healthy cells.

The FDA approval to initiate the trial is based on substantial preclinical research.

MTI-201 was developed for the treatment of uveal melanoma after tumour spread to other parts of the body.

The drug attains its precision by targeting a particular protein biomarker found in higher concentrations in the uveal melanoma cells.

MTI-201 does not damage healthy cells as the protein is not abundant in these cells.

McLaughlin said: “The current therapy for primary uveal melanoma is irradiation of the eye.

“Because the radiation is coming from the outside, it causes all sorts of collateral damage while it’s going into the site where the tumour actually is.

“Our drug could be injected right into the eye at a very, very low dose. It wouldn’t be circulating throughout the body. It would reach the target immediately.”

In the future, the researchers anticipate that the drug could potentially be utilised for treating localised cases of uveal melanoma before it progresses to other regions.

Although uveal melanoma is a rare illness overall, it is the most common kind of eye cancer.