An organometallic compound called Organo-Osmium FY26 may be a promising therapy for ovarian cancer, according to a study.
Researchers said FY26, which includes the metal osmium, may be able to kill ovarian cancer cells up to 50 times better than current platinum-based therapies.
The researchers noted that FY26 uses a different mechanism than platinum therapies to kill ovarian cancer cells. This suggests that it might be used in patients who no longer respond to platinum-based chemotherapies.
The study, “Synchrotron X-Ray Fluorescence Nanoprobe Reveals Target Sites for Organo-Osmium Complex in Human Ovarian Cancer Cells,” was published in the journal Chemistry – A European Journal.
An organometallic compound contains bonds between the carbon atom of an organic compound and a metal. Several of these transition metal molecules can fight cancer, but how they identify and kill cancer cells has remained elusive.
Researchers used a fluorescent light probe called a synchrotron X-ray fluorescence nanoprobe (SXRFN) to see how Organo-Osmium FY26 works inside ovarian cancer cells.
“These kinds of experiments are normally performed using bigger doses than what would be done in real life or on a coarse scale that does not provide a clear picture of the processes that take place,” Peter Cloetens, a co-senior author of the study, said in a news release. With nano-imaging, “by combining a very tight focus and high flux, we could get a real picture of where the drug goes in a single cell using real-life pharmacological doses,” he said.
The research team found FY26 in mitochondria, parts of cells that convert food to energy. Mitochondria can trigger signals that lower energy production, leading to cell death.
The triggering can include the release of zinc and calcium from the places where they are stored in cells.
Importantly, researchers found that FY26 killed ovarian cancer cells, but left healthy cells intact. The findings prompted the team to call for FY26 testing in other cancers as well.
“Cancer drugs with new mechanisms of actions which can combat resistance and have fewer side-effects are urgently needed,” Peter Sadler, the other co-senior author of the study, said in a news release. “The advanced nano-focused X-ray beam at [the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility] has not only allowed us to locate the site of action of our novel Organo-Osmium FY26 candidate drug in cancer cells at unprecedented resolution, but also study the movement of natural metals such as zinc and calcium in cells. Such studies open up totally new approaches to drug discovery and treatment.”