Haptens as Drugs: Contact Allergens are Powerful Topical Immunomodulators

May 2006 | Volume 5 | Issue 5 | Original Article | 410 | Copyright © May 2006

Aton M. Holzer MD, Leonard L. Kaplan PhD, William R. Levis MD

For the past 40 years, dermatologists have safely used contact sensitizers such as dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB), diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP), and squaric acid dibutylester (SADBE) for the treatment of warts, alopecia areata, and even skin cancers. Most of these studies have utilized these powerful topical immunomodulators in acetone, a volatile solvent that precludes development of contact sensitizers as products. We have overcome these problems and stabilized these topical immunomodulators in a non-volatile, nonirritating GRAS (generally regarded as safe) vehicle. The current review article covers the traditional use of contact sensitizers for a variety of benign and malignant conditions and discusses possible mechanisms in relation to developments in modern molecular immunodermatology.