Cancer Treatment May Have a Golden Future

Modified gold-based molecules show promise as effective, targeted treatment

Researchers from RMIT University have engineered gold-based molecules that target cancer cells and leave healthy cells unharmed, in a critical step towards precision cancer drugs with fewer toxic side effects.

Preclinical studies have shown the molecules were up to 24 times more effective at killing cancer cells than the widely used anticancer drug cisplatin and were also better at inhibiting tumor growth.

The molecules were also more selective, making them promising candidates for development into a new class of gold-based drugs that can wipe out the cancer without destroying healthy cells.

Significantly, the synthetic molecules are built with resistance-fighting features to keep them effective over time, an advantage over many current chemotherapies.

Neda Mirzadeh, co-leader of the Molecular Engineering Group at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia, 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 were evaluated in preclinical tests and found to be highly cytotoxic against prostate, breast, cervical, melanoma and colon cancer cells. Animal trials showed treatment with the molecules significantly inhibited tumor growth (up to 46.9%, compared with 29% for cisplatin).

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.

In addition, the molecules have strong anti-inflammatory properties, giving them a dual therapeutic effect and potential application in the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

ScienceDaily.com, Sept. 6