University of Texas at Arlington team researching ruthenium compounds as
possible anti-cancer drugs has discovered a way to make their complexes more
effective against cancer cells and less toxic to healthy cells in lab tests.
Frederick MacDonnell, of the UT Arlington Department of Chemistry and
Biochemistry, presented his work this month at the 24th
International Symposium on Chiral Discrimination in Fort Worth. His presentation was called: “In vitro and in vivo responses to the chirality of ruthenium-based
Platinum-based drugs are currently the first line of treatment for many cancer patients. Scientists
working with similar elements, such as ruthenium, hope to develop effective,
less toxic alternative chemotherapy drugs.
ruthenium-based complexes used in MacDonnell’s study are chiral molecules – non-superimposable
mirror images known as either “right-handed” or “left-handed” enantiomers depending
upon their chemical structure. The researchers used five different chiral ruthenium
complexes to try to shrink non-small cell lung cancer samples in the lab. They found
that the right-handed configurations were twice as
effective as the left-handed configurations. They also saw that the right-handed
configurations were twice as well tolerated in terms of acute toxicity
as the left-handed configurations.
we’ve found is that the right-handed configuration of this drug is working for
you in two fashions, both of them beneficial,” MacDonnell said. “It is both
more effective at killing cancer cells and is less toxic to the organism –sort
of a double-whammy.”
MacDonnell’s co-presenters at the conference were
Abhishek Yadav, Thamara Jaranatne and Arthi Krishnan, all past graduate
students at UT Arlington.
also noted that these ruthenium compounds work well against tumor cells under
hypoxic, or low-oxygen, conditions. Such compounds could be useful to target
the subpopulation of hypoxic cancer cells in solid tumors, as these cells are
often the most resistant to drug treatment.
This research was funded through
a $222,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The University of Texas System has applied
for a U.S. patent on MacDonnell’s discoveries.
few pharmaceuticals are organo-metallic compounds, but those that are have
powerful effects. Dr. MacDonnell has developed ruthenium-based compounds that
have great potential as cancer drugs,” said Daniel Armstrong, a
UT Arlington professor and internationally known chemist who holds the Robert
A. Welch Chair in Chemistry. Armstrong was a lead organizer of the International Symposium on Chiral
into cancer-fighting drugs is
representative of the outstanding scientific work under way at The University
of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of nearly 33,500
students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
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