More Powerful Than Cisplatin, Preclinical Cancer Drug Shows

The cancer drug, FY26, has demonstrated high potency and efficacy compared with cisplatin and other platinum-based chemotherapies

Peter Sadler, MS, DPhil

The cancer drug, FY26, has demonstrated high potency and efficacy compared with cisplatin and other platinum-based chemotherapies, according to a preclinical trial conducted by researchers from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick and the Warwick Cancer Research Unit in the UK.

“It [FY26] is an organo-osmium compound that induces a lethal burst of reactive oxygen species in cancer cells, but not in normal cells, which confers selectivity,” said co-researcher, Peter Sadler, MS, DPhil, of the University of Warwick’s Department of Chemistry. The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute recently led experiments consisting of 809 cancer cell lines, demonstrating that FY26 was 49 times more potent than cisplatin.

Additionally, FY26 may cost less to produce because most chemotherapies are platinum based, and tend to be more expensive than osmium, which is about one-third the cost, according to Sadler.

He also maintained that FY26 holds the possibility of overcoming resistance inherent to the drugs currently in the clinic, with less adverse effects.

FY26 is a multitargeted agent and contains a mechanism of action that is unlike the current anticancer drugs available, according to Sadler. The agent forces cancer cells to use their typically defective but important source of energy, the mitochondria, to properly function. “Mitochondria in cancer cells are already defective. In fact, we [he and his co-researchers] detected three mutations in a vital part of the electron transport chain that converts oxygen into water and makes energy (ATP) for cells. Because of their defective mitochondria, cancer cells try to make their energy by glycolysis in the cytoplasm.” Sadler explained. The new drug allows the primary source of energy to return to the mitochondria, ultimately killing the cancer cells.

Sadler’s co-researcher, Isolda Romero-Canelon, PhD, MRSC, stated in the news release that this research could lead to major improvements in cancer survival rates. She believes that this new and innovative drug is necessary for future advancements, as well as extremely effective against cancer cells.

Sadler and his colleagues hope that they will quickly advance toward clinical trials in about 3 years.

The research from this FY26 study, titled ‘Potent organo-osmium compound shifts metabolism in epithelial ovarian cancer cells,’ is published byProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


University of Warwick (news release). Cancer drug 49 times more potent than cisplatin. July 8, 2015.