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Home Technologies Prochelators as targeted prodrugs for prostate cancer
Prochelators as targeted prodrugs for prostate cancer

Prochelators as targeted prodrugs for prostate cancer

Value Proposition

Globally, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of new cancer cases in men and the sixth-leading cause of cancer-related death in men. Prostate-related health issues are on the rise, and the number of cancer cases is increasing, leading to the need for improved treatments and diagnostic technologies. While 80% of patients with prostate cancer respond favorably to androgen ablation therapy through surgical or medical castration, most patients experience a relapse of the disease within 1-2 years. The use of chemotherapies have improved treatment in these metastatic castration resistant prostate cancers (mCRPCs), but off-target activities of these drugs have necessitated the search for novel and selective drugs for mCRPC. Although copper (Cu) has long been recognized as a 
factor in cancer cell proliferation, approaches 
to date do not optimally exploit this 
aspect for clinical effect. A drug that could manipulate the Cu biology of these cells would be a potent therapeutic for mCRPC and enter a growing global prostate cancer therapeutic market. Furthermore, a drug that is activated only in mCRPC tissue would elude off-target activity and side reactions.


Dr. Katherine Franz and coworkers have demonstrated a method of directing the cytotoxicity of copper dithiocarbamates against prostate cancer cells. In order to accomplish this, the copper-chelating characteristics of an approved drug for alcohol aversion therapy (disulfiram) is repurposed to achieve copper-assisted toxicity. A prochelator-approach leveraging a cancer-specific activation mechanism creates conditions for a selective prostate cancer treatment. This strategy is particularly effective due to the increased copper uptake observed in prostate cancer cells.


  • A new strategy to leverage amplified copper metabolism of prostate cancer
  • Potentially minimizes side reactions and off-target pathways that impede disulfiram’s anticancer potential
  • This versatile synthetic strategy could be readily modified to target different cancers or diseases

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