Novel Vanadium Complex to Treat Aggressive Brain Cancer


Available for Collaboration and Funding


Debbie Crans
Peter Lay

At A Glance

​Researchers at Colorado State University in collaboration with University of Sydney have developed a novel Vanadium (V) complex to treat highly aggressive brain cancer via intra-tumoral injection.  Preliminary data in various human cancer cell lines (typically treated by intra-tumoral injections) indicated the novel V Complex had higher cytotoxicity, increased stability and permeability in cell membranes compared to the anti-cancer drug cisplatin.  Furthermore, the V Complex was consistently more toxic to cancer vs. non-cancer cells.  The novel V Complex and decomposition compounds are proprietary.

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Licensing Director

Steve Foster

Reference No.: 19-024


​Novel therapeutics are required for difficult-to-treat cancers, including brain, lung and pancreatic cancers, in which stabilized formulations of strongly cytotoxic or immune-modulating drugs are injected directly into the tumor via endoscopic procedures.  Metal-based drugs, including vanadium (V) complexes, in combination with novel delivery techniques, are promising for anti-cancer treatment.  Although, the enhancement of oncolytic viruses by V compounds have shown a remarkable selectivity for cancerous tissue over normal tissue, the extensive reactivity of V complexes in biological media and associated toxicity has been regarded as the main obstacle to their translation into clinical practice.  Nevertheless, the limited lifetime of typical V complexes in biological media can be turned into an advantage.  Such drugs begin to kill cancer cells immediately after injection into tumors, while their decomposition products released into the blood are less toxic – which is expected to reduce systemic toxicity, a major problem of cancer chemotherapy.  Furthermore, decomposition products are likely to prove beneficial, given known anti-diabetic, anti-mutagenic, tissue regeneration promoting and neuro-stimulatory properties of V compounds, all of which can provide simultaneous benefits to many patients.

  • Non-toxic decomposition products
  • Increased stability and permeability in cell membranes
  • V complex shows immediate death of targeted cells
  • Treatment of particularly difficult cancers, e.g. brain cancer

Dalton Trans., 2019,48, 6383-6395 DOI: 10.1039/c9dt00601j

Last updated: June 2020

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