The Reporter
Issue 488, 24 February 2003
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New compound to combat cancer


Patrick McGowan and Olivia Allen

Cracking the compound – Patrick McGowan and Olivia Allen

A metal used to coat aircraft and turn paper and paint white could provide a lifeline for thousands of women with untreatable ovarian cancer.

A new titanium-based compound, invented by Dr Patrick McGowan, killed many types of cancer cells – including ovarian cancer cells – in in vitro trials.

Ovarian cancer is the hardest to treat, with over half innately resistant to current platinum-based drugs, and over three-quarters developing resistance during treatment. Dr McGowan’s new compound, however, appears to be effective even against resistant cells.

Dr McGowan has overcome the main barrier to using the metal in a drug, by inventing a compound which is both soluble and stable in water, and therefore in the bloodstream. Titanium has the added advantage of being considerably cheaper than platinum.

Dr McGowan said: “This is just the first stage, but the results so far are very promising. The University has filed patents for the compound, and further trials are already under way to find out exactly how the compound works. Once we know that, we can continue to improve on it, though we’re still perhaps ten years away from a new treatment.”

Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the UK, with nearly 7,000 new cases each year. The research, carried out by Dr McGowan and PhD student Olivia Allen, is funded through the University, with support from Enact Pharma plc and Cancer Research UK.

See the story on BBCi


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