PloS one

Effective melanoma immunotherapy in mice by the skin-depigmenting agent monobenzone and the adjuvants imiquimod and CpG.

PMID 20498710


Presently melanoma still lacks adequate treatment options for metastatic disease. While melanoma is exceptionally challenging to standard regimens, it is suited for treatment with immunotherapy based on its immunogenicity. Since treatment-related skin depigmentation is considered a favourable prognostic sign during melanoma intervention, we here aimed at the reverse approach of directly inducing vitiligo as a shortcut to effective anti-melanoma immunity. We developed an effective and simple to use form of immunotherapy by combining the topical skin-bleaching agent monobenzone with immune-stimulatory imiquimod cream and cytosine-guanine oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG) injections (MIC therapy). This powerful new approach promptly induced a melanoma antigen-specific immune response, which abolished subcutaneous B16.F10 melanoma growth in up to 85% of C57BL/6 mice. Importantly, this regimen induced over 100 days of tumor-free survival in up to 60% of the mice, and forcefully suppressed tumor growth upon re-challenge either 65- or 165 days after MIC treatment cessation. MIC therapy is effective in eradicating melanoma, by vigilantly incorporating NK-, B- and T cells in its therapeutic effect. Based on these results, the MIC regimen presents a high-yield, low-cost and simple therapy, readily applicable in the clinic.

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4-(Benzyloxy)phenol, 98%