Silver as a Chemotherapy Drug
The value of silver has long been known for its beauty in jewelry, utensils, and its conductive properties. But a new property in making the headlines. Researchers have now found that the metal is just as effective as leading chemotherapy treatments, yet greatly reduces the side effects.
Currently, cisplatin is the main drug used in the treatment of a wide range of cancers. The drug contains platinum with groups of molecules attached, creating a complex that reacts with DNA in cancer cells. These molecules that surround the platinum atom are the determining factor in how reactive and effective the treatment is. However, platinum is toxic to our systems, causing the many of the chemotherapy side-effects.
Basing her hypothesis off of previous studies indicating that silver compounds could be effective in killing cancer cells, Charlotte Willans from the Univerity of Leeds, along with her colleagues, created compound with silver atoms replacing platinum atoms. Upon attaching different types of carbene ligands to the silver atoms, the team incubated the compound with breast and colon cancer cells for almost a week, testing different concentrations of the substance.
The new compound based off of silver was concluded to be just as effective as cisplatin when it came to effectively attacking both types of cancer cells. Silver complexes which contained a ligand with two bonds proved more effective than those with a single bond, probably because they are more stable.
When implicated in biological functions, silver is far less toxic to healthy cells than platinum, making this study an important step in finding effective, non-toxic cancer treatments.