Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

Font Size

ALS Drug Slows Melanoma Growth

Study Shows Riluzole Shrinks Tumors Without Toxic Side Effects

Riluzole Lowers Glutamate Levels continued...

In animal studies, riluzole again suppressed tumor cell growth and progression, she says. The researchers were then able to secure an NCI grant to perform a new type of first-in-human study; it's designed to validate if a drug will perform as expected in humans -- "to see if you are hitting your targets," Goydos says.

"This is the very first time we have treated melanoma patients with drugs that target [glutamate] and a significant number of patients responded," he says. The only significant side effect was dizziness, according to Chen.

Tumors Shrink, Even Disappear

Goydos says that he was amazed at some of the results. One of the first patients "had a large growth in the groin area," he says. "When the pathologists examined the tissue after the treatment, all they could see was scar tissue -- there was no tumor. We thought there was a mistake."

Another patient had a "large painful lymph node on his neck and could barely move his head. One week in, the node shrank, and he was very comfortable, even without pain medication," Goydos says.

Other researchers are enthusiastic about the approach. "What is exciting about these very preliminary results is that it is an outgrowth of a novel observation that showed that melanoma appears to be dependent on glutamate," says Stuart Lessin, MD, head of dermatology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

"As far as metastatic disease goes, metastatic melanoma is very recalcitrant to treatment. This really provides a potential new avenue, a new target for treatment. [It] could work by itself or more likely in combination with other treatments," he tells WebMD.

The next step will be a study of even sicker patients -- those whose disease has spread to other organs, like the liver. The dosage will gradually be increased to determine the most effective dose and identify possible toxic side effects.

(Do you want the latest news about cancer sent directly to your inbox? Sign up for WebMD's cancer newsletter.)

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Malignant melanoma
About 40-50 percent of those who live to be 65 may get it. Here’s how to spot early.
Woman checking out tan lines
There’s a dark side to that strive for beauty. See them here.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
12 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Melanoma
precancerous lesions slideshow
Do You Know Your Melanoma ABCs
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
screening tests for men
Vitamin D
Is That Mole Skin Cancer
Brilliant sun rays