Perhaps rather than donate billions of dollars to big pharma to invent new toxic chemotherapeutics, we should spend that money to promote the use of silver- a safe compound with known anti-cancer properties.
Scientists investigate whether silver could be used as a treatment for cancerYorkshire Cancer Research has awarded scientists at the University of Bradford and the University of Leeds over £44,000 to carry out research into whether silver could be used as a treatment for cancer.
Drugs containing metals such as platinum and copper have already been proven as effective treatments for cancer, but they cause severe side effects and are very harmful to normal tissues.
Silver, which has a lower toxicity level than other metals, has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties, and a series of silver complexes have been created which kill cancer cells in the laboratory.
Silver complexes have not been extensively studied before compared to other metals in cancer therapy. The reason for this is unclear but in the laboratory, scientists have demonstrated that silver compounds may have some potential as anti-cancer drugs. (The reason is that silver is not patentable-Doc)
Dr Roger Phillips, from the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford and Dr Charlotte Willans from the University of Leeds, are now planning to study this process further to find out how exactly the compounds kill cancer cells. Dr Phillips said: "Silver based complexes represent a new class of drugs that have not been widely studied before. In order to develop these as potential drugs for use in humans, we need to know how these compounds are working and whether they are better or similar to existing metal based drugs.
"Without this knowledge, development of these compounds as cancer treatments will be difficult.
"Silver is inherently well tolerated and doesn't cause the same level of toxicity to normal tissues as other heavy metals. The compounds we have developed therefore may be equally effective as other platinum based drugs but with reduced toxicity to normal tissues.
"This project will determine how these compounds work and start to address the key issue of whether they are selectively active against cancer cells.
"We have chosen silver because it has anti-cancer activity but it is inherently non-toxic to normal tissues. This project is therefore exciting because there is the possibility that we can develop a drug that is as active against tumours as cisplatin but will be less toxic to normal tissues."
Yorkshire Cancer Research funds world-class research, treatment and diagnosis projects throughout the region. If you would like more information about the work the charity does please call us on 01423 501269.
Provided by Cancer Research UK