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Novel chemotherapeutic agent for skin cancer treatment.

Country of Origin: Singapore
Reference Number: TOSG20170711001
Publication Date: 11 July 2017


A Singapore educational and research institute has developed and patented a therapeutic compound that is highly effective against skin melanoma cell lines and less toxic to normal skin cells. The compound is also found to be more potent than the common anti-cancer drug carboplatin and 5-fluorourasil in-vitro. 

The institute is seeking the following types of cooperation with industrial MNEs or SMEs of all sizes:

- License agreement
- Research cooperation agreement.


Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and it is ranked 6th in both men and women in Singapore. Since the currently used chemotherapy drugs for skin cancer treatment are non-selective, they attack normal cells as well which lead to various side effects. Thus, there is a need to develop new drugs which are more effective against cancer cells while less toxic to normal cells.

In-vitro study performed by the institute's researchers showed evidences that the in-house developed and patented therapeutic compound can be synthesized in just two steps with very high yield and purity. The compound being soluble in water can be formulated in injectable formulation. The pre-clinical animal studies on the novel compound are in progress. The fast, simple and efficient synthesis process of making the compound may significantly reduce the cost of ingredients and manpower of the overall manufacturing process. Thus, if the trials are successfully conducted, this compound could be developed as a new chemotherapeutic drug that would make skin cancer treatment cheaper, but just as effective with reduced side effects.

The novel compound is a mixed ligand transition metal complex designed to target DNA of the cancer cells. The compound is isolated as a salt which improves its aqueous solubility. The structure of the compound contributes to its overall amphiphilicity for better cell penetration. The designed compound is synthesized in just two steps. The synthesis process is highly efficient with above 90% product yield. The synthesized compound is purified by simple purification process such as recrystallization. Highly pure crystalline product is obtained which could be analyzed by single crystal X-ray diffraction technique for detailed structural information.

The institute seeks R&D and licensing partnerships with industry players (SMEs of all sizes or MNEs) with an interest to use this technology for product development.

Advantages and Innovations

In-vitro studies indicate that the compound has stronger cytotoxic effect on cancer cells compared to normal cells with IC50 values 6.6 micro molar for skin melanoma cells compared to 35 micro molar against normal skin fibroblast cells. 

Control experiments also infer that this compound is more efficient in killing skin cancer cells and less toxic on normal skin cells compared to common anti-cancer drug carboplatin.

The developed compound is a cheaper, efficient and less toxic chemotherapeutic agent for skin cancer treatment which could be of interest of pharmaceutical industries to further develop the compound to commercialisation stages.

Other potential applications include treatment of macular degeneration, treatment of human papillomavirus (HPV) warts, treatment of skin disorders related to rapid cell growth and cosmetic applications.

Stage Of Development

Under development/lab tested

Requested partner

The institution seeks to work with SMEs of all sizes or MNEs in a licensing or research cooperation agreement partnership.

The partner sought could be a technology provider or an industrial player from the healthcare sector who is keen to explore the following types of partnerships:

i) License agreement:
The partner can license the technology to further develop and commercialise it to offer to their customers.

ii) Research cooperation agreement:
The partner can undertake joint R&D with the Singapore institution to offer to further develop it to introduce to new customers or market segments.

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