Calixarenes as novel chemotherapeutic agents

Helen James and Alba Warn

In collaboration with Carl Redshaw and Sean Bew (School of Chemical Sciences and Pharmacy)
Complications and drawbacks to current cancer treatments, in particular chemotherapy, are quite prevalent. Therefore investigation into new and more effective cancer specific drugs is of considerable importance. A new group of chemical molecules to be considered for use in cancer treatments are the calixarenes. These drugs can be modified so that they can carry a toxic payload to the cancer cell. However the calixarene molecule itself should be non-toxic. This study seeks to confirm that the calixarenes are non-toxic when unmodified, but that they are toxic to cancer cells when carrying a drug. A number of different calixarene molecules and the modified versions are being examined for effects in both solid tumour and leukaemia cell lines. Calixarenes have never been systematically studied in biological settings as potential therapeutic agents. Therefore a second aim of the study is to understand more about how these molecules physically interact with the cells.