A series of organometallic ruthenium(II) complexes containing iminophosphorane ligands have been synthesized and characterized. Cationic compounds with chloride as counterion are soluble in water (70–100 mg/mL). Most compounds (especially highly water-soluble 2) are more cytotoxic to a number of human cancer cell lines than cisplatin. Initial mechanistic studies indicate that the cell death type for these compounds is mainly through canonical or caspase-dependent apoptosis, nondependent on p53, and that the compounds do not interact with DNA or inhibit protease cathepsin B. In vivo experiments of 2 on MDA-MB-231 xenografts in NOD.CB17-Prkdc SCID/J mice showed an impressive tumor reduction (shrinkage) of 56% after 28 days of treatment (14 doses of 5 mg/kg every other day) with low systemic toxicity. Pharmacokinetic studies showed a quick absorption of 2 in plasma with preferential accumulation in the breast tumor tissues when compared to kidney and liver, which may explain its high efficacy in vivo.
Frik, M., Martínez, A., Elie, B. T., Gonzalo, O., Ramírez de Mingo, D., Sanaú, M. . . . Contel, M. (2015). In Vitro and in Vivo Evaluation of Water-Soluble Iminophosphorane Ruthenium(II) Compounds. A Potential Chemotherapeutic Agent for Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 57(23), 9995-10012. doi:10.1021/jm5012337.