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OU professorís anti-cancer compound could revolutionize treatments

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Rathindra Bose has been looking for a better anti-cancer drug for nearly 30 years. Now, his discovery of a compound that beats back ovarian cancer in mice without the toxicity, weight loss and hair loss of other drugs has been snapped up by a New York biomedical company for possible commercialization.

Bose, professor of biomedical sciences at Ohio University in Athens, as well as VP of research and dean of the graduate college, says continued testing on the new class of anti-cancer compounds will continue for at least a year before clinical testing in humans can take place. But he's excited by the prospects of a new treatment for cancer patients whose options are currently limited.

Bose's new compounds, called phosphaplatins, are a combination of phosphate and platinum. The three most widely used anti-cancer drugs also contain platinum, but can have devastating side effects, including liver disease, he says. Consequently, doses typically must be kept low, he says.

Most platinum-based drugs work by killing cancer cells directly by binding with the DNA inside a cell's nucleus, he says. But, they also react with vital enzymes, causing toxic side effects.

Phosphaplatins are designed to promote tumor suppression genes within the body rather than to kill cancer cells directly. Because they do not bind with a cell's DNA, they do not appear to carry the toxic effects of most platinum-based drugs, he says.

"With mice, there has been no hair loss that we have seen," Bose says." They're as playful as normally we see for the control group. And, they don't lose their appetite as compared to other platinum drugs."

Ohio University has licensed Bose's new class of compounds to Phosplatin Therapeutics, which is paying $600,000 for further experiments leading, all hope, to eventual commercialization.

While Bose says the new compounds may have applications for other forms of cancer, his team has focused on ovarian cancer because later stages of that disease are so difficult to treat with current drugs.

Source: Rathindra Bose, Ohio University
Writer: Gene Monteith
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