Skin and eye: Melanoma

Southampton has played a leading role in the development and trial of melanoma therapies that stimulate the immune system (see our focus on immune-based therapy for details on these approaches).


Key investigator: Christian Ottensmeier

An oncology consultant and researcher specialising in melanoma, leukaemia, and cancers of the chest, Christian Ottensmeier is at the forefront of research into cancer vaccines.

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An answer to 'untreatable' metastatic melanoma

After decades of research, metastatic cancers remained unresponsive to treatment, or at best showing limited improvement in return for severe side-effects.

Southampton contributed to the key study, demonstrating improved survival for patients with these cancers using Ipimilimumab, an antibody that stimulated the immune system to attack the cancerous cells.

A major step forward, Ipimilimumab remains a stand-out success and is now being assessed in small-cell lung cancer by Southampton.

Different approaches

Overall antibody-based approaches present bigger challenges for melanoma treatment compared to blood cancers like lymphoma, similar to many other solid cancer types.

Christian Ottensmeier and the Southampton team are continuing to develop and trial antibody-based therapies, but are also exploring vaccines as another way of stimulating the immune system to attack melanomas, alongside trials of new drugs targeting cancer cell-specific changes.

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