A study published recently in Chemistry -- A European Journal features research on the golden cancer treatments of the future – literally. Current metal-based chemotherapies are limited but the gold-based molecules that researchers at RMIT University studied have the potential to greatly improve precision cancer.
Dr. Neda Mirzadeh, co-leader of the Molecular Engineering Group at RMIT, commented that the four bio-active molecules the researchers focused on will hopefully be able to better target cancer cells while minimizing harm to healthy cells.
"We've made huge inroads in cancer treatment over recent decades, but the disease still kills over 9.6 million people globally each year and remains the world's second leading cause of death," Mirzadeh said. "While metal-based drugs have successfully pushed survival rates up, their effectiveness is limited because of toxic side effects, drug resistance and poor stability. The gold-based molecules we've designed are far more selective and stable. Our results show there's incredible potential here for the development of new cancer-fighting therapeutics that can deliver lasting power and precision."
The molecules have shown to be effective against five kinds of cancer cells – up to 24 times more effective than the anti-cancer drug cisplatin. The types of cancer cells include prostate, breast, cervical, melanoma and colon cancer cells. The researchers also showed they are more effective at inhibiting tumor growth (46.9% effective compared to 29% for cisplatin) in animal trials.
In addition, the molecules have anti-inflammatory properties as well as, making them effective in reducing chronic inflammation and secondary effects from treatment. According to Science Daily, “The gold-based compounds also inhibit the action of an enzyme found in cancer cells, thioredoxin reductase, that is linked with cancer progression and the development of drug resistance.”
The researchers say that more clinical studies will be necessary in order to gain regulatory approval to move forward in the process of developing these potential cancer treatments.
"We know that gold is readily accepted by the human body and we know it has been used for thousands of years in treating various conditions," said team leader and Distinguished Professor, Suresh Bhargava. "Essentially, gold has been market tested, but not scientifically validated. Our work is helping both provide the evidence base that's missing, as well as delivering new families of molecules that are tailor-made to amplify the natural healing properties of gold."