Oz scientists hope to develop cream to treat skin cancer

Melbourne: Australian researchers have created a new chemical that imitates a melanoma-killing virus, a biomedical engineering advance that could lead to developing a cream to treat skin cancer in future.

Researchers at Melbourne based RMIT University said that the chemical was effective in destroying the cancer cells without harming normal skin cells.

Lead investigator Dr Taghrid Istivan said the preliminary research would hopefully lead to developing a cream that could treat early stage melanoma.

"We found it is active against cancer cells, against melanoma, but it doesn`t harm the normal cells," she said.

"It could be made into a cream and can be used to treat cancer" she said.

Current early stage melanoma treatments require minor surgery to cut out the cancer cells and healthy skin around a mole.

However, the new research has created a peptide, or a chain of amino acids, that mimics how the proteins of the myxoma virus interact with melanoma cells.

Istivan said there were many benefits to using a synthetic cream over the virus itself, including the cost and concerns the virus could one day mutate and start killing other kinds of cells.

"And with a cream, you can just apply it at home, or in a clinic," she said.

It was said that the research was needs to be tested on animals and then in clinical trials which indicates that the final outcome was still some years away.