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

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

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

Berger TG, Dieckmann D, Efferth T, Schultz ES, Funk JO, Baur A, Schuler G.
Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany.

(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