December 9, 2008

Precious metal may yield cancer treatment

A precious metal never used in a clinical setting is being developed as a next-generation cancer treatment, British researchers report.

University of Warwick researchers are working with the metal, osmium, which is related to platinum and is used to treat cancers as part of the drug cisplatin, the university said in a news release.

The Department of Chemistry researchers are seeking partners to help develop osmium through more extensive biological tests.

While cisplatin is successful treatment, it isn't useful for all kinds of cancer, said professor Peter Sadler, adding, It is also quite a toxic therapy, which can produce side effects and, from a clinical point of view, cells can also become resistant to platinum.

Osmium has shown promise in treating several different types of cancer cells, including ovarian and colon cancers developed and tested in the laboratory.

Sadler and post-graduate researcher Sabine van Rijt are working to develop compounds using osmium, which they said might lead to the development of drugs that could be combined in therapies with existing drugs.

The compounds we have been developing are very promising, van Rijt said. We're building a picture of how different compounds might interact with DNA in cancer cells.