Red Dye May be Effective Melanoma Treatment

February 29, 2016
Caroline Hroncich

Caroline Hroncich was associate editor for Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology Europe, and BioPharm International from 2015 to 2017.

A reformulated version of Rose Bengal, PV-10, may be used to treat melanoma when injected directly into tumors.

Rose Bengal was patented in the 1882 as a wool dye used to dye yarn a bright red color. Now, according to a report in Reuters, researchers are looking at the potential for the dye to help battle melanoma.

Provectus Biopharmaceuticals, a biopharma company focused on clinical stage dermatology and oncology, has been testing a reformulated version of the dye, called PV-10, on melanoma. According to Reuters, the founders of Provectus discovered that Rose Bengal could be used to fight cancer. In 1998, while searching for a photoreactive agent to use in a study of lasers and cancer, scientists discovered that the dye appeared to break down tumors when it was injected directly into them.

In July 2015, Provectus published an article in the Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immonology detailing results of a Phase I study done with 11 melanoma patients. The 11 patients had a total of 26 dermal metastatic lesions, which were treated with an injection of PV-10, with a total of 19 lesions (76%) displaying a clinical response. Researchers reported that of these 19 lesions, “nine experienced a complete response (CR), three a partial response (PR), and seven had stable disease.” Researchers also reported that several untreated lesions displayed a clinical response to the drug.

According to Reuters, in a study done with 80 advanced melanoma patients treated with PV-10, half appeared to be cancer free after an average of two months. A total of 11% showed no signs of the disease a year after completion of the study. Now researchers are waiting for the final results from a 225-patient melanoma trial, comparing the drug to chemotherapy. Results are expected until early 2018. A decision from FDA on the effectiveness of the drug is not expected before 2019, Reuters reported.

This is not the first time a dye has been discovered to have clinical implications. In a December 2015 study published in the journal Aging Cell, scientists at the University of Maryland discovered a connection between the chemical methylene blue, which is used as a bacteriologic stain indicator dye during surgical procedures, could be used to treat progeria. According to a University of Maryland press announcement, progeria is a rare genetic disease that mimics the normal aging process at an accelerated rate. The study showed that small doses of methylene blue could almost completely repair defects in cells affected with progeria.

Source: Reuters/Fortune, Omics Online