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New drug candidate shows promise against cancer

Date: 12.7.2012 

Drugs containing platinum are among the most powerful and widely used cancer drugs. However, such drugs have toxic side effects, and cancer cells can eventually become resistant to them.

MIT chemistry professor Stephen J. Lippard, who has spent much of his career studying platinum drugs, has now identified a compound that kills cancer cells better than cisplatin, the most commonly used platinum anticancer drug. The new compound may be able to evade cancer-cell resistance to conventional platinum compounds.

"I've long believed that there's something special about platinum and its ability to treat cancer," Lippard says. Using new variants, "we might have a chance of applying platinum to a broader range of cancer types, more successfully," he says.

Phenanthriplatin was tested against 60 types of cancer cells as part of the National Cancer Institute's cancer-drug screening program, and it was found to be four to 40 times more potent than cisplatin, depending on the cancer type. It also showed a different pattern of activity than that of cisplatin, suggesting that it could be used to treat types of cancer against which cisplatin is ineffective.






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