Although the majority of drugs are composed of organic molecules containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen; the chemical and physical diversity offered by metals can be harnessed to develop inorganic compounds capable of killing cancer cells.

Dr Suntharalingham from the University of Leicester was awarded an Idea Grant to investigate if molecules containing gallium could be used to target osteosarcoma cells that are resistant to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs.

The presence of gallium confers them an added advantage, as gallium salts intrinsically accumulate in bone.

What were the results of this research project?

The group successfully prepared compounds that, in the laboratory, displayed high potency against chemotherapy resistant osteosarcoma cells. They were also able to enclose these drugs into nanoparticles, so they could be delivered more efficiently inside cancer cells.

Dr Suntharalingham is now looking to improve the delivery of these agents selectively to the bone tumour cells.

The research has taken significant steps towards identifying effective and targeted treatments able to overcome chemotherapy resistance in osteosarcoma, which have the potential to be translated from the laboratory to the clinical setting.

How can this project benefit osteosarcoma patients?

The successful completion of this research has the potential to identify a completely new series of drugs that are designed to seek, accumulate, and effectively kill osteosarcoma cells.

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