|Systematic (IUPAC) name|
|Licence data||EMA: , US FDA:|
|Pregnancy cat.||B1 (AU) C (US)|
|Legal status||POM (UK) ℞-only (US)|
|Half-life||30 hours (topical dose), 2 hours (subcutaneous dose)|
|Mol. mass||240.304 g/mol|
| (what is this?)
Imiquimod (INN) is a prescription medication that acts as an immune response modifier. It is marketed by Meda AB, Graceway Pharmaceuticals and iNova Pharmaceuticals under the trade names Aldara and Zyclara, and by Mochida as Beselna. It is also referred to as R-837. Due to the bankruptcy of Graceway in 2011, Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation is the current owner of these products.
The original FDA approval was on February 27, 1997, FDA Application No. (NDA) 020723, by 3M. Imiquimod is approved for the uses described below under Uses. Adverse side effects have been reported, in some cases serious and systemic, resulting in the revision of warning labels.
Imiquimod is a patient-applied cream used to treat certain diseases of the skin, including skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, Bowen's disease, superficial squamous cell carcinoma, some superficial malignant melanomas, and actinic keratosis) as well as genital warts (condylomata acuminata). However, Imiquimod is generally secondary to surgery, because surgery has a better chance to effectively treat at least some forms of skin cancer.
Outstanding cosmetic result has resulted from the treatment of both large superficial basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma in-situ, but the morbidity and discomfort of the treatment can be severe, and can very occasionally result in some degree of permanent mild scarring. Focal recurrence of tumor has been seen after imiquimod treatment, but appear to be amenable to surgical excision.
Imiquimod can also cause subclinical lesions to become visible and to be killed by the immune system. Photographs of actinic keratosis and superficial basal cell carcinomas before, during and after treatment show the unmasking of subclinical disease. Somewhat counter-intuitively, the more-concentrated (5%) Imiquimod cream needs to be applied on and off over the course of a longer period (4 months), while the less concentrated (3.75%) Imiquimod cream only needs to be applied on and off over the course of a shorter period (1 month). However, some doctors have the patient apply the 5% cream for only 2 months (not 4) or even significantly less time than 2 months.
Imiquimod is more likely to cure skin disease that is identified earlier.
Mechanism of action 
The exact mechanism of action in which imiquimod and its analogs activate the immune system is not yet known. Nevertheless, it is known that imiquimod activates immune cells through the toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7), commonly involved in pathogen recognition. Cells activated by imiquimod via TLR-7 secrete cytokines (primarily interferon-α (INF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)). There is evidence that imiquimod, when applied to skin, can lead to the activation of Langerhans cells, which subsequently migrate to local lymph nodes to activate the adaptive immune system. Other cell types activated by imiquimod include natural killer cells, macrophages and B-lymphocytes.
New research has shown that imiquimod has anti-proliferative effects in vitro that are independent of immune system activation or function. However, those effects do not apply to skin cancer cells.
Imiquimod exerts its effect by increasing levels of the opioid growth factor receptor (OGFr). Blocking OGFr function with siRNA technology resulted in loss of any antiproliferative effect of imiquimod.
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2009)|
Nonspecific inflammation and dermatitis can occur during use of imiquimod for genital warts and molluscum. This often occurs where the skin is traumatized from scratching or between skin folds. Blisters, bloody dry eschar, pain, and discomfort often follows the use of imiquimod for skin cancers and precancerous growths. During the treatment of large superficial basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell cancer in situ, areas of black dried crust often form. Many individuals with extensive actinic keratoses cannot tolerate the resulting reaction.[unreliable medical source?] Fortunately, despite frequent significant inflammation, the areas treated generally heal well with no scarring.
Recurrence of skin cancer can occur with imiquimod, but often appears to be localized. It is more common when there are deeply penetrating nests of tumor cells such as in nodular basal cell carcinoma. However, nodular basal cell carcinomas should generally not be treated with imiquimod. Recurrence of superficial basal cell carcinomas can be treated by repeat courses of imiquimod, surgically by simple local excision or by Mohs' micrographic surgery. The recurrence rate depends on the condition being treated and the frequency of topical imiquimod application. A 6-week study on 99 patients with superficial basal cell carcinomas found success rates of 100%, 88%, 73% and 70% for twice daily, once daily, 6 times weekly and 3 times weekly application, respectively.
Imiquimod can be prepared from 4-chloro-3-nitroquinoline.
See also 
- van Egmond S, Hoedemaker C, Sinclair R (2006). "Successful treatment of perianal Bowen's disease with imiquimod". Int J Dermatol 46 (3): 318–9. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2007.03200.x. PMID 17343595.
- 'Imiquimod should be used for treatment of [superficial basal cell carcinoma] only when surgery is medically less appropriate ... .' USA Food And Drug Administration, 'FDA Approval for Imiquimod', , current at 2011-Jan-1, accessed 2012-Oct-19
- van Seters M, van Beurden M, ten Kate FJ, et al. (April 2008). "Treatment of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia with topical imiquimod". The New England Journal of Medicine 358 (14): 1465–73. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa072685. PMID 18385498.
- Buck HW, Guth KJ (October 2003). "Treatment of vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (primarily low grade) with imiquimod 5% cream". Journal of lower genital tract disease 7 (4): 290–3. doi:10.1097/00128360-200310000-00011. PMID 17051086.
- Photographs before, during, and after imiquimod therapy for actinic keratosis and basal cell carcinoma
- American Cancer Society, Guide To Cancer Drugs,  (accessed 2012-Oct-19)
- Hemmi H. et al. (February 2002). "Small anti-viral compounds activate immune cells via the TLR7 MyD88-dependent signaling pathway. Nat Immunol.. '". 2002' 3 (2): 196–200. doi:10.1038/ni758. PMID 11812998.
- Bilu D, Sauder DN (November 2003). "Imiquimod: modes of action". Br. J. Dermatol. 149 Suppl 66: 5–8. PMID 14616337.
- Miller R.L. et al. (January 1999). "Imiquimod applied topically: a novel immune response modifier and a new class of drug. Int J Immunopharmacol". 1999 Jan;' 21 (1): 1–14. PMID 10411278.
- Zagon IS, Donahue RN, Rogosnitzky M, McLaughlin PJ (August 2008). "Imiquimod upregulates the opioid growth factor receptor to inhibit cell proliferation independent of immune function". Exp. Biol. Med. (Maywood) 233 (8): 968–79. doi:10.3181/0802-RM-58. PMID 18480416.
- John Welbes, (13 Feb 2006). "Texan Blames Aldara for Ailments: He Settled Lawsuit but Continues Campaign Against 3M Skin Cream Though Web Site". Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- Advances in the use of topical imiquimod to treat dermatologic disorders
- Aldara website, What are the possible side effects of Aldara Cream?[dead link]
- Gertser, J. F.; 1985, EP 0145340