Experts in the US have identified a gene which is linked to melanoma of the eye, a particularly deadly form of cancer.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis claim that the discovery is an "important step" in understanding why some tumours spread and others do not, and could lead to more effective treatments being developed.
First author and Washington University ophthalmologist Dr J William Harbour said that for years scientists and physicians have been waiting for a "rational and therapeutic" target that could be used to treat high-risk patients.
"We believe this discovery may provide insights needed to hasten the development of therapies for these patients," he explained.
Ocular melanoma, also known as uveal melanoma, is the most common eye cancer in the world and the second most common form of melanoma, affecting an average of 2,000 adults in the US alone each year, mainly patients over the age of 50.
by Martin Burns