Iridium- a very hard, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum group which wiped out dinosaurs from earth over 65 million years ago can be used to kill cancer cells, according to a recent research.
Iridium could be used to kill the cancerous cell by filling them with a deadly version of oxygen without harming healthy tissues.
“The precious metal platinum is already used in more than 50% of cancer chemotherapies,” said lead co-author Professor Peter Sadler, from the University of Warwick, UK.
“The potential of other precious metals such as iridium to provide new targeted drugs which attack cancer cells in completely new ways and combat resistance, and which can be used safely with the minimum of side-effects, is now being explored.”
“Our project is a leap forward in understanding how these new iridium-based anti-cancer compounds are attacking cancer cells, introducing different mechanisms of action, to get around the resistance issue and tackle cancer from a different angle,” said co-author Dr. Cookson Chiu, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Warwick.
“Our innovative approach to tackle cancer involving targeting important cellular proteins can lead to novel drugs with new mechanisms of action. These are urgently needed,” said first author Dr. Pingyu Zhang, from the University of Warwick and Shenzhen University in China.
By conducting the treatment on non-cancerous tissue, a group of international scientists has proved that this method is safe to fight against cancer.
The team has also used state-of-the-art ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry to know more about a view of the individual proteins within the cancer cells which allow them to find meticulously which proteins are attacked by the organic-iridium compound.
Scientists have concluded the research by saying that the iridium compound had damaged the proteins for heat shock stress, and glucose metabolism, both known as key molecules in cancer.
“Remarkable advances in modern mass spectrometry now allow us to analyze complex mixtures of proteins in cancer cells and pinpoint drug targets, on instruments that are sensitive enough to weigh even a single electron,” said lead co-author Professor Peter O’Connor, also from the University of Warwick.