Platinum-Based Drugs in Cancer Therapy. Front Matter Pages i-xii. Front Matter Pages The Chemistry of Cisplatin in Aqueous Solution. Susan J.
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But the really important event was its accidental discovery as a cancer treatment by Barnett Rosenberg , a biophysical chemist. At the time, Rosenberg was trying to study the effect electric fields had on bacterial growth. During his experiments, he found bacteria grew times their normal size, a very unusual result, when he used platinum electrodes to generate the electric fields. It took a while to figure out what was going on, but in the end he discovered the platinum electrodes were corroding in the test solution, producing cisplatin. Rosenberg published his remarkable findings in the journal Nature and followed this up three years later with another paper showing cisplatin could cure tumours in mice.
Cisplatin has been used as a treatment for cancer since its approval by the US Food and Drug Administration in And while five other platinum drugs based on the structure of cisplatin have been developed since, it has never been replaced.
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This has completely changed how some cancers are treated. Once in the veins, it moves from the blood stream into cancer cells where it bonds with water to form a more reactive form of the drug.
In this form, the drug can stop DNA from replicating and from acting as a blueprint for making proteins. This causes cancer cells to recognise something is wrong and initiate a type of cell suicide called apoptosis.
But cisplatin is not without its problems. Its suite of horrible side effects includes severe nausea and vomiting. Cisplatin also makes patients anaemic and susceptible to infections. It destroys their kidneys too, although giving the patient lots of water before and after treatment has been found to be effective in reducing this.
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Worse still, because these side effects are so severe, they limit the dose of the drug that can be given to patients. Many cancers end up getting treated with less than optimal doses as a result, which leads to tumours rapidly developing resistance to further treatment.
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This is a particular problem in the treatment of ovarian cancer because it develops resistance faster than other types of cancer. Over the last two decades, many researchers, including my research team, have been developing new formulations of cisplatin in an effort to reduce its side effects.
Our milestones: Cisplatin – the story of a platinum-selling life-saver
The best way to do this is through the use of nanoparticles to better target cisplatin to cancer cells. One such nanoparticle formulation being commercially developed is Lipoplatin. This formulation encloses cisplatin in a shell called a liposome , which is similar in structure to the walls of human cells.