Saturable dose-response relationships for melphalan in melanoma treatment by isolated limb infusion in the nude rat
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Nude rats bearing melanomas on their hindlimbs were treated by isolated limb infusion (ILI) with increasing doses (7.5–400 μg/ml) of melphalan. The response of tumours to treatment at the end of the observation period was graded, according to diameter, as complete response (CR), partial response (PR), no change (NC) or progressive disease (PD). No linear relationship between the dose of melphalan and the tumour response was observed. All doses above a threshold of 15 μg/ml achieved a PR or CR. The achievement of CR was not related to increased dose. Two major implications arise from this work. Firstly, the typically two- to three-fold increase in cytotoxic drug concentration given in high dose chemotherapy compared with standard drug concentration may not be sufficient to produce the expected increase in tumour response and possibly survival, and the controversial results of high dose chemotherapy in different studies may thus be explained. Secondly, since an increase in melphalan dose above a certain threshold does not greatly increase tumour response, the use of combination therapies would seem to be more likely to be effective than increased chemotherapeutic drug doses in achieving better tumour responses.