New Compound Derived from Gold and Titanium May Help Combat Kidney Cancer

New Compound Derived from Gold and Titanium May Help Combat Kidney Cancer

October 2, 2015

A special formula made of titanium and gold may be able to combat renal cell carcinoma in a whole new way. In a study published in the journal Chemical Science, researchers report this combination may be more be effective than cisplatin and also associated with little toxicity.

A special formula made of titanium and gold may be able to combat renal cell carcinoma in a whole new way. In a study published in the journal Chemical Science, researchers report this combination may be more be effective than cisplatin and also associated with little toxicity.1

The researchers have been investigating the synthesis, characterization, and stability of new titanocene complexes containing a methyl group and a carboxylate ligand bound to gold(I)-phosphane fragments through a thiolate group. It is this combination therapy appears to pack a special punch.

“Kidney cancer is frequently diagnosed in the late stages when there are minimal options for treating the deadly disease. The hope is that this could potentially lead to new therapies that would extend the life-span of cancer patients who are diagnosed late,” said study investigator Joe Ramos, PhD, who is the director of the cancer biology program at the University of Hawaii (UH) Cancer Center in Honolulu, in a press release.2

This current study highlights the increased effectiveness and reduced toxicity of anticancer compounds containing titanium and gold (compound 5). The research indicates that the improved antitumor activity may be due to the interaction of the different metals with multiple biological targets, or by the improved chemical and physical properties of the new compound.

“A gold based compound (called Auranofin) has been used to treat rheumatic diseases for years and has recently been used in clinical trials for the treatment of some cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia. However, that drug does not work well for kidney cancer. An important finding for us was that the incorporation of the titanium fragment into the similar gold based compound 5 increased the activity and specificity towards kidney cancer,” said co-investigator Maria Contel, PhD, who is an associate professor at Brooklyn College (The City University of New York), Brooklyn, NY.

Unlike previous metallic compounds known to fight cancerous cells, this titanium-gold compound does not attack DNA. Instead, it causes cancer cell death by blocking a group of enzymes that supports cancer cell survival and metastasis. Compound 5 shrank tumors and performed better in preclinical models than the platinum agent cisplatin, suggesting excellent promise for further clinical development, according to the investigators. In addition, they said further studies are warranted to see if this compound is effective in other tumor types.

“To do the best cutting-edge cancer research you often need to work between disciplines and institutions. This work is the result of such collaboration. This is the sort of work especially fostered by cancer centers like the UH Cancer Center, and is an important mission of NCI-designated cancer centers like ours,” said Ramos.

He noted kidney cancer rates are continuing to rise. In the US, an estimated 53,813 people are diagnosed with the disease yearly, according to the National Cancer Institute. The University of Hawaii Cancer Center will host the First International Organometallics Symposium in December 2015 where top researchers in the field will meet to share and discuss the latest findings of using metal-based compounds to fight cancer.

 

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