PURPOSE: Uveal melanoma has a high mortality rate due to a high incidence of metastasis (up to 50%), which preferentially occurs in the liver. Conventional chemotherapy, being the only therapeutic option today against metastatic uveal melanoma, has not proved to be effective. Therefore, new molecular targets important for malignant phenotype of uveal melanoma have to be found to design efficient pharmacologic agents. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We previously reported data indicating that the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-IR) is a metastasis predictor as well as a therapeutic target for uveal melanoma. In the present study, we made use of the cyclolignan picropodophyllin (PPP), which is an inhibitor of the IGF-IR. RESULTS: We showed that PPP efficiently blocks growth and viability of uveal melanoma cells in cultures and causes tumor regression in xenografted mice. In addition, treatment with PPP inhibited several mechanisms involved in metastasis, including tumor cell adhesion to extracellular matrix proteins, activity and expression of matrix metalloproteinase 2, and cell migration as well as invasion through basement membranes and endothelial cell layers. Furthermore, PPP significantly delayed establishment of uveal melanoma tumors and drastically reduced the incidence of liver metastasis in mice. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that IGF-IR is crucial for growth and survival as well as invasion and metastasis of uveal melanoma cells. Targeting this receptor may therefore comprise a strategy to treat ongoing disease (today incurable) as well as a strategy to prevent development of metastases in patients with primary disease.

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