In recent years, the number of targeted cancer drugs has continued to rise. However, conventional chemotherapeutic agents still play an important role in cancer treatment. These include platinum-based cytotoxic agents that attack and kill cancer cells. But these agents also damage healthy tissue and cause severe side effects.
Researchers at ETH Zurich have now identified an approach that allows for a more selective cancer treatment with drugs of this kind (Angewandte Chemie, “Peptide-Coated Platinum Nanoparticles with Selective Toxicity against Liver Cancer Cells”).
Platinum can be cytotoxic when oxidised to platinum(II) and occurs in this form in conventional platinum-based chemotherapeutics. Non-oxidised platinum(0), however, is far less toxic to cells. Based on this knowledge, a team led by Helma Wennemers, Professor at the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, and Michal Shoshan, a postdoc in her group, looked for a way to introduce platinum(0) into the target cells, and only then for it to be oxidised to platinum(II).
To this end, they used non-oxidised platinum nanoparticles, which first had to be stabilized with a peptide. They screened a library containing thousands of peptides to identify a peptide suitable for producing platinum nanoparticles (2.5 nanometres in diameter) that are stable for years.

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Read more at nanowerk.com

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