London: Scientists have taken the first step towards creating a simple cream that they hope could one day treat skin cancer. Researchers at Melbourne's RMIT University have designed a new chemical that acts like a known virus by killing off melanoma cells.

While the chemical is effective at destroying the cancer cells, normal skin cells remain unharmed. According to Dr Taghrid Istivan, the preliminary research will hopefully lead to developing a cream to treat early stage melanoma.

"We found it is active against cancer cells, against melanoma, but it doesn't harm the normal cells," a daily quoted her as saying.

"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 but 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.

Dr 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. The research, however, still needs to be tested on animals and then in clinical trials, meaning a final product could be years to decades away. The findings of the study will be presented at a medical conference in Jerusalem later this month.


Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk