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Oncol Rep. 2005 Dec;14(6):1599-603.

Artesunate in the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma--first experiences.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany.


Artesunate (ART) is a derivative of artemisinin, the active principle of the Chinese herb Artemisia annua L. Artesunate is approved for the treatment of multidrug-resistant malaria and has an excellent safety profile. It has been shown that Artesunate, apart from its anti-malarial activity, has cytotoxic effects on a number of human cancer cell lines, including leukemia, colon cancer and melanoma. We report on the first long-term treatment of two cancer patients with ART in combination with standard chemotherapy. These patients with metastatic uveal melanoma were treated on a compassionate-use basis, after standard chemotherapy alone was ineffective in stopping tumor growth. The therapy-regimen was well tolerated with no additional side effects other than those caused by standard chemotherapy alone. One patient experienced a temporary response after the addition of ART to Fotemustine while the disease was progressing under therapy with Fotemustine alone. The second patient first experienced a stabilization of the disease after the addition of ART to Dacarbazine, followed by objective regressions of splenic and lung metastases. This patient is still alive 47 months after first diagnosis of stage IV uveal melanoma, a situation with a median survival of 2-5 months. Despite the small number of treated patients, ART might be a promising adjuvant drug for the treatment of melanoma and possibly other tumors in combination with standard chemotherapy. Its good tolerability and lack of serious side effects will facilitate prospective randomized trials in the near future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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