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SA researchers discover potential new anti-cancer drug

Written by: Megan Ellis

Researchers at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) have discovered a new family of potential anti-cancer drugs, the university announced.

According to the researchers, the silver-based compound may prove to be effective against cancer while having a significantly lower toxicity than chemotherapy drugs.

“The most promising complex among these has been successfully tested in rats and in several human cancer cell lines in laboratory studies. The complex is as effective against human esophageal cancer cells, as a widely-used chemotherapy drug, but at a ten times lower dose, and much lower toxicity against non-malignant cells.”

University of Johannesburg

The promising results mean that the new drug could potentially be effective for human cancer patients. It is also significant that the complex, named UJ3, was shown fight human esophageal cancer cells, as this form of cancer is resistant to the current chemotherapy drugs available.

“The UJ3 complex is as effective as the industry-standard drug Cisplatin in killing cancer cells in laboratory tests done on human breast cancer and melanoma, a very dangerous form of skin cancer, as well.”

Professor Marianne Cronjé, Head of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Johannesburg.

UJ3 can be administered in much lower doses than chemotherapy drugs – effectively killing cancer cells at a dose that it 10 times lower than chemotherapy doses. According to Professor Cronjé, the compound also has a better focus on cancer cells – meaning that fewer healthy cells are killed during treatment.

While chemotherapy is the go-to non-surgical treatment option for cancer patients, the negative side effects of the medication significantly lower the quality of life for the people using them. That’s why a drug that kills fewer healthy cells is so exciting – as it could potentially serve as an effective treatment option that doesn’t come with as many negative side effects.

Because the UJ3 complex is also silver-based, it is significantly more cost-effective to produce than many chemotherapy drugs, which are platinum-based.

While the research is promising, more research is required to determine whether UJ3 can effectively treat cancer in human patients. However, if this proves to be the case, it will mark a new era in cancer treatment.




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