Metals could help treat cancer

A new study has revealed that drugs made from two transition metals ruthenium and osmium could offer effective treatment against colon and ovarian cancers.

Researchers from University of Warwick and the University of Leeds have shown that a range of compounds containing the two transition metals, which are found in the same part of the periodic table as precious metals like platinum and gold, causes significant cell death in ovarian and colon cancer cells.

The compounds were also effective against ovarian cancer cells, which are resistant to the drug Cisplatin, the most successful transition metal drug, which contains the metal platinum.

“Ruthenium and Osmium compounds are showing very high levels of activity against ovarian cancer, which is a significant step forward in the field of medicinal chemistry,” Dr Patrick McGowan, one of the lead authors of the research, said.

“Most interestingly, cancerous cells that have shown resistance to the most successful transition metal drug, Cisplatin, show a high death rate with these new compounds,” said Sabine H. van Rijt, lead researcher in the laboratory of Professor Peter Sadler in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick.

Professor Sadler, at the University of Warwick, said he is “excited by the novel design features in these compounds which might enable activity to be switched on and off”.

The findings appear in Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

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