Targeted, efficient and non-toxic anti-cancer drugs: innovative chemotherapeutic molecules based on a new class of palladium compounds could fight different types of cancers, limiting the typical side effects of current treatments with cisplatin or related compounds. The therapy could be in the form of highly efficient intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous solutions, pills or tablets.

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According to a study by Allied Market Research “Oncology/Cancer Drugs Market by Drug Class Type (Chemotherapy, Targeted Therapy, Immunotherapy, and Hormonal Therapy) and Indication (Lung Cancer, Stomach Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Liver Cancer, Esophagus Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Bladder Cancer, and Others): Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2018 – 2025”, the global oncology/cancer drugs market was valued at $ 97,401 million in 2017, and is estimated to reach $ 176,509 million by 2025, registering a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 7.6% from 2018 to 2025.
As regards the global Platinum (Pt) Based Cancer Drugs market, it was valued at $ 1,310.3 Million in 2018 and is expected to reach $ 1,814.1 Million by 2026 according to a new study by The Market Research Report “Global Platinum Based Cancer Drugs Market Share, Size, Trends, Industry Analysis Report By Drug Type (Cisplatin, Oxaliplatin, Carboplatin, Other), By Application (Colorectal Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Lung Cancer, Other); By Regions, and Segment Forecast, 2019 - 2026".


Cancer includes a large group of diseases that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, go beyond their usual boundaries to invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths overall, or one in six deaths in 2018. Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common types among women. (Source: WHO

Current technology limitations

The discovery of the anticancer properties of cisplatin, and its approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 1978, paved the way for the use of inorganic compounds as chemotherapeutic agents. However, cisplatin has some important limitations, due on the one hand to its nephro- and neurotoxicity, on the other it resulted ineffective against some types of neoplasms or it induced resistance in others.
Although appeared on the market platinum compounds with fewer side effects (carboplatin and oxaliplatin), since they have the same mechanism of action proposed for cisplatin (DNA platination), they were found to be ineffective against cisplatin-resistant tumours.
For this reason, in recent decades, research in the field has moved towards the synthesis and study of the anticancer properties of compounds based on other transition metals. Gold and Ruthenium are among the most investigated complexes in this area, while only more recently palladium compounds have been taken into account.

Killer Application

Starting from this class of palladium - Pd (I) compounds , highly effective drugs can be produced in the form of intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous solutions, capsules or tablets, which can be administered to patients with different types of cancer (such as ovarian, cervical, colon and lung cancers).

Our technology and solutions

Researchers from Ca’ Foscari have synthesized an unusual and rare class of Palladium(I) compounds which are unexpectedly stable despite their oxidation state. They tested them as anti-proliferating agents on some of the most aggressive tumors, such as ovarian, cervical, colon and lung cancers; achieving very promising results. In fact, the high cytotoxic effects on cancer cells is accompanied by a low toxicity (IC50> 100 µM, where IC50 is the concentration of an inhibitor necessary to inhibit the biological process under examination by 50%) on cells extracted from healthy tissues (lung fibroblasts MRC-5).
Compound IC50 (µM)
A2780 A2780cis OVCAR5 A549 KURAMOCHI HeLa MRC-5
Cisplatin 1.0 ± 0.2 43 ± 3 5.2 ± 0.8 6±3 1.7 ± 0.3 11±2 14 ± 1
Pd(I) 0.03± 0.01 1.9 ± 0.2 1.4 ± 0.3 0.38±0.02 0.38 ± 0.09 3.5 ± 0.1 >100
Anti-proliferative activity data obtained after 96 hours of incubation.
The stock solutions were obtained in dimethyl sulfoxide for the Pd (I) compound and in H2O for the cisplatin. A2780, A2780cis, OVCAR5 and KURAMOCHI (ovarian cancer), A549 (lung cancer), HeLa (cervical cancer) and MRC-5 (lung fibroblasts).


• High anti-proliferative activity
• Antitumor efficacy higher than that of cisplatin or other palladium compounds
• Limited toxicity on healthy cells


The research group is currently looking for partners (pharmaceutical companies, investors, etc.) to start collaborative projects to further develop the technology and / or licensing it.

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