Synthesis of TPEN variants to improve cancer cells selective killing capacity. Academic Article uri icon


  • TPEN is an amino chelator of transition metals that is effective at the cellular and whole organism levels. Although TPEN of often used as a selective zinc chelators, it has affinity for copper and iron and has been shown to chelate both biologically. We have previously shown that TPEN selectively kills colon cancer cells based on its ability to chelate copper, which is highly enriched in colon cancer cells. The TPEN-copper complex is redox active thus allowing for increased ROS production in cancer cells and as such cellular toxicity. Here we generate TPEN derivatives with the goal of increasing its selectivity for copper while minimizing zinc chelation to reduce potential side effects. We show that one of these derivatives, TPEEN despite the fact that it exhibits reduced affinity for transition metals, is effective at inducing cell death in breast cancer cells, and exhibits less toxicity to normal breast cells. The toxicity effect of the both chelators coupled to the metal content of the different cell types reveals that they exhibit their toxicity through chelating redox active metals (iron and copper). As such TPEEN is an important novel chelators that can be exploited in anti-cancer therapies.

published proceedings

  • Bioorg Chem

altmetric score

  • 2.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Schaefer-Ramadan, S., Barlog, M., Roach, J., Al-Hashimi, M., Bazzi, H. S., & Machaca, K.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Schaefer-Ramadan, Stephanie||Barlog, Maciej||Roach, Jim||Al-Hashimi, Mohammed||Bazzi, Hassan S||Machaca, Khaled

publication date

  • January 1, 2019 11:11 AM