New Generation Cancer Treatments

Armen Hareyan's picture

Promising Anti-Cancer Drugs

A new generation of anti-cancer drugs being trialed by University of Sydney researchers is showing promising signs of being more effective than traditional chemotherapy treatments, with potentially fewer side-effects.

"The drugs we are developing work by binding the iron in tumour cells, preventing them from growing," said Professor Des Richardson, from the University of Sydney's Department of Pathology.

"Tumour cells grow a lot more quickly than other cells in the body and so they need comparatively large amounts of iron to grow," he said.


The drugs, known as iron chelators, are highly effective at preventing the growth of a wide range of human tumors implanted in mice.

In one experiment, Professor Richardson's team transplanted human lung cancer tumours. The mice treated with the drugs had 15 mm3 -sized tumours after 14 days, compared with 276 mm3 -sized tumours in mice treated with a control saline solution.

Professor Richardson said the new drugs could prove particularly effective in treating melanoma tumours, a type of cancer that has not seen any significant advances in treatment for the past 25 years.

One of the exciting features of this new class of drugs is they can overcome resistance to established chemotherapies, Professor Richardson said.

Professor Richardson is hoping to commence clinical trials of the drug on humans in the next one to two years. The study is published this month in the prestigious science journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.