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Cell-Permeable Iron Improves Cancer Treatment

Technology #20150219

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Cancer Stem CellBreast Cancer CellsLymphoma Cells
Sundaram Ramakrishnan, PhD
Professor, Department of Pharmacology
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Sabita Roy, PhD
Professor, Department of Surgery
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Managed By
Raj Udupa
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-3966
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending
Cell-permeable iron inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 signaling and tumor angiogenesis
Oncotarget, 2016; 7:65348-65363

Cell-Permeable Iron Boosts Chemotherapy and Radiation Effects

Cell-permeable iron can be used to increase effectiveness of cancer treatments. Whether used alone or when co-administered with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, cell-permeable iron sensitizes solid tumor and/or leukemia cells to the therapy, increasing therapeutic effectiveness. Using these methods may decrease the amount of a chemotherapeutic agent needed, thus decreasing costs, improving patient compliance, lessening risk of resistance and even decreasing the severity of side effects. In addition, it can be used as a pretreatment to sensitize tumor cells to radiation therapy.

Targets Tumor Stem Cells

Conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can fail to completely cure the disease. Cancer recurrence may occur either due to drug resistance or from cancer stem cells that survive the therapy. Cell-permeable iron bypasses mechanisms required for drug resistance and also improves cytotoxicity of different cancer drugs. Tumor stem cells, which survive in hypoxic environments and tend to be resistant to chemotherapy, can be sensitized to chemotherapeutic agents by adding cell-permeable iron, even in hypoxic regions of a tumor. Adding cell-permeable iron makes chemotherapy ten times as effective.

Inhibits Angiogenesis

Cell-permeable iron also inhibits angiogenesis and can therefore be used therapeutically to treat conditions promoted by angiogenesis or to enhance existing anti-angiogenic therapies. Other non-cancer proliferative diseases, such as psoriasis, persistent inflammation, diabetes-induced retinopathy, rheumatoid arthritis and macular degeneration, may also benefit from the anti-angiogenic properties of cell-permeable iron.


  • Synergistic effects with chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Ten-fold increase in efficacy of chemotherapy
  • Effective against tumor stem cells
  • Pretreatment can sensitize tumor cells to radiation therapy
  • Anti-angiogenic properties may treat psoriasis, inflammation, diabetes-induced retinopathy, rheumatoid arthritis and macular degeneration
  • May decrease amount of chemotherapeutic agents needed
  • Lower risk of drug resistance; fewer and/or less severe side effects


  • Treatment of solid tumors and leukemia
  • Enhancing cancer chemotherapies and/or radiation therapy
  • Treatment of non-cancer proliferative diseases (i.e. psoriasis, persistent inflammation, diabetes-induced retinopathy, rheumatoid arthritis and macular degeneration)

Phase of Development - In vivo/animal studies