Who knew we would be turning to precious metals to find a cure for cancer? Well, after platinum, researchers at the University of Warwick are developing osmium to be used as an anti-cancer agent. Osmium has similar properties to platinum, which is extensively used in cancer treatment in the form of Cisplatin, a cancer treatment drug.
Perhaps you are familiar with Lance Armstrong, who was treated for testicular cancer using the platinum-based drug. It’s evident that precious metals are the keys to finding next generation cancer treatments.
Currently, researchers at the University are working day and night in collaboration with Warwick Ventures and with the help of outside partners to grow the potential of osmium as a potent cancer treatment through extensive biological tests.
The question you are probably going through your mind is, “if platinum has been successfully used to treat cancer, why then are we looking into other options?”
A professor from the university’s department of chemistry, Peter Sadler, Says that though Cisplatin has proven to be a successful cancer treatment drug, it does not work for all types of cancer. Additionally, it also offers a very toxic treatment therapy, which can result in many side effects, and with time, cells can also become resistant to the primary ingredient of the drug, platinum.
There is great potential in osmium as a cancer treatment thanks to its unique chemical properties. So far, great promise has been shown in treating different types of cancer cells including colon and ovarian cancers that have developed and tested in the university’s labs. Another greater advantage of using osmium is that it is way cheaper compared to platinum, meaning if a cancer treatment drug is created, it’s going to be affordable for the general public.
An important point to bear in mind is that the development of osmium doesn’t mean platinum should stop being used as a form of cancer treatment. These two metals are not cross-resistant it’s just that they each attack the cancer cells in a different way, and they can be used together in combination therapies for aggressive cancer treatment.
The University of Warwick researchers were able to formulate a new cancer drug FY26 that has osmium as its primary ingredient. An exciting finding in the biological tests of FY26 is that the cells that had become resistant to Cisplatin didn’t stand a chance with Osmium, which recorded impressive cell death. The osmium based drug is 49 times stronger than Cisplatin. These tests were also conducted by the National Cancer Institute USA, and they came up with similar results.
How does this new osmium drug work?
From a fundamental biological standpoint, all cells rely on energy to survive. When your cells are healthy, they use their individual mitochondrion to generate energy. Mitochondria are your cells’ mini-power plants. The mitochondria in cancer cells are usually defective and as such cannot produce sufficient energy. What they do is to turn to the metabolic action in their cytoplasm for energy – it becomes a game of survival for the fittest.
One of the primary reasons why FY26 has registered significant success in cancer treatment is the fact that forces the cancer cells to source their energy from mitochondria and because the mitochondria in cancer cells are defective and cannot produce energy, the cancer cells are left with no choice but to die.
The major failure of platinum-based cancer treatment drugs is the fact that they are not able to distinguish between healthy cells and cancer cells and so the cancer cells continue thriving because they have an alternate way of getting energy.
While there is no quick fix to treating cancer, FY26 has managed to improve on the deficiencies of Cisplatin which was not very effective at treating different types of cancer and which also caused resistance by cancer cells rendering the treatment ineffective.
Osmium is a multi-targeted consensus unlike platinum which is a single –target drug, and this is perhaps the reason why cancer cells become resistant to single-target drugs. Though confirmation has not been made, multi-targeted drugs may be more successful at curing cancer once and for all.
Research is still ongoing, and FY26 is yet to hit the shelves as it has to follow the rigorous process in the drug development pipeline but there is great hope for cancer patients. Osmium has shown the greatest achievement in terms of finding a potent cancer cure, one that can be used from start to finish without fear of resistance.FY26 might be especially effective in killing cancer cells that have mutated DNA’s which present a significant hurdle for platinum-based drugs.
Doctors and researchers across the globe are working around the clock to find a permanent cancer cure using transitional metals with osmium being the most promising.