Ointment developed to combat skin cancer

Santiago, March 5 (IANS) Chilean scientists have developed an ointment that early trials have proved effective in combating melanoma, the most aggressive variety of skin cancer, the media reported on Saturday.

The cream, said the University of Santiago on Friday, has been made by a research team from its faculty of chemistry and biology and contains a plant that is endemic to the South American country, Xinhua news agency reported.

It is currently in the early stages of testing and being applied to animals, and so far it has proved to be an effective solution for melanoma, according to Sofia Michelson, who along with Claudio Acuna led the research team.

Every year between two and three million people all over the world are diagnosed with melanoma, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures.

The experts’ main objective is to find a mechanism that can counteract the organism’s progression before the presence of a tumour.

The ointment is for external use and should be applied every third day for a period of about a month, during which the application zone should be protected, said the researchers.

The medication contains an extract of a shrub that can be found between the Chilean regions of Coquimbo in the north and Biobio in the south, they added, noting that the substance affects the viability of the tumour cells.

After applying the ointment on animals, the researchers were able to more than double the animals’ life expectancy compared to other conventional medicines.

Another advantage of the treatment is its low cost, said the researcher, pointing out that there are already a lot of products available to fight general cancer, “but many of them are expensive”.

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