Malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is composed of cells derived from the foetal neural crests. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is neurotropic virus and can therefore localise in melanoma cells. HSV variant 1716 replicates preferentially in human melanoma cell lines in vitro, causing cell lysis and death. On the basis of this mechanism, researchers from University of Glasgow suggest in a research letter to the Lancet, that HSV1716 could be used for the local treatment of human malignant melanoma.

In a preliminary study, Rona MacKie and colleagues tested the effects of intratumoral injection of HSV1716 into subcutaneous nodules of metastatic melanoma in five patients with advanced (stage 4) disease. For each patient, a test nodule was injected with103 pfu HSV1716, and a second nodule was injected with 1 ml sterile saline as a control. In one patient, flattening of previously palpable tumour nodules was...

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