News Feature | March 27, 2014

Study Shows New Iridium-Based Cancer Drug Can Improve Survival Rate

By Estel Grace Masangkay

A new study at the University of Warwick has developed a new iridium-based cancer drug that could lead to dramatic improvement in cancer survival rates.

The drug labeled as ZL105 is a compound based on iridium, a precious metal. Through manipulation of the body’s natural signaling and energy systems, ZL105 can potentially replace existing anticancer drugs which tend to become less effective over time.

Professor Peter Sadler, co-author of the study, said, “Existing cancer treatments often become less effective after the first course, as cancer cells learn how they are being attacked. The drug we have developed is a catalyst and is active at low doses. It can attack cancer cells in multiple ways at the same time, so the cancer is less able to adapt to the treatment. This means the new drugs could be much more effective than existing treatments. Platinum-based drugs are used in nearly 50% of all chemotherapeutic regimens, exert their activity by damaging DNA and cannot select between cancerous and non-cancerous cells, leading to a wide-range of side-effects from renal failure to neurotoxicity, ototoxicity, nausea and vomiting.”

“In contrast, the new iridium-based drug is specifically designed not to attack DNA, but to have a novel mechanism of action, meaning that it could not only dramatically slow down and halt cancer growth, but also significantly reduce the side effects suffered by patients,” Professor Sadler added.

ZL105 may be ten times more effective in the treatment of ovarian, colon, melanoma, renal, and some breast cancers according to preliminary data obtained by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The study could lead to significant improvements in cancer survival rates. Researchers plan to expand the study to cancers inherently resistant to existing therapies, as well as those which have become resistant after undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Findings of the study were published online in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.