Irish cancer research is “truly innovative”

New cancer treatment technology developed

Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have developed a new class of cancer treatment technology that has been described as "truly innovative".

Dr Celine Marmion and Dr Darren Griffith from the Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry at RCSI have discovered a new class of platinum drug candidates for the treatment of cancer, which has also been licensed to a pharmaceutical company for further development.

The new technology has focused on the development of multi-functional platinum drug candidates which, within cancer cells, would simultaneously target DNA and a class of enzymes called histone deacetylases (HDAC). These platinum drug candidates have demonstrated potent anti-cancer activity and have been shown to be selective for cancer cells over normal healthy cells.

Chemotherapy clearly plays a vital role in cancer treatment, but the use of platinum drugs is an essential component of many anti-cancer treatments.

However, their success has been restricted due to their limited activity against many common cancers, their susceptibility to drug resistance and their strong side effects.

Despite these drawbacks, in 2009 anti-cancer drug sales exceeded $50bn worldwide and currently nearly 50 per cent of all anti-cancer therapies are platinum based. The technology developed in RCSI addresses these problems because they have a different mechanism of action and have fewer toxic side effects compared to existing platinum drugs.