City University of Hong Kong (CityU) chemists recently co-led a research team that discovered novel, highly effective anticancer agents with tridimensional structures that have high anticancer activity, low toxicity, and the ability to overcome drug resistance in cancer cells. The findings point the way forward for anticancer drug development.

Cancer has long been a devastating disease that affects millions of people all over the world. Despite advancements in treatment, current anticancer drugs frequently have limited efficacy, a lack of cancer selectivity, severe side effects, and drug resistance in cancer cells.

The team tested a new class of tridimensional and chiral compounds with promising anticancer activity and action mechanisms distinct from conventional anticancer drugs to overcome drug resistance in collaboration with researchers from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

The researchers first devised a novel, highly efficient catalytic synthetic strategy to produce a novel class of tridimensional and chiral tetraarylmethane compounds with higher anticancer activity and lower toxicity than the clinical anticancer drug doxorubicin.

The compounds were tested on cancer cells in vitro by the research team, who used doxorubicin as a control. The tetraarylmethane compounds were found to be more cytotoxic to cancer cells, including lung cancer stem cells (LCSCs), which are notorious for their drug resistance.