[Cu(thp)4][PF6] (HydroCuP) is a phosphino copper(I) complex highly soluble and stable in physiological media that has been developed as a possible viable alternative to platinum-based drugs for anticancer therapy. HydroCuP potently inhibited the growth of human cancer cells derived from solid tumors by inducing endoplasmatic reticulum (ER) stress thus leading to cell death through paraptosis with a preferential efficacy against cancer rather than non-cancer cells. Aim of the present study was to assess the therapeutic potential of HydroCuP in vivo, in syngenic and xenograft murine models of solid tumors by triggering the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) pathway. With respect to platinum drugs, HydroCuP induced a markedly higher reduction of tumor growth associated with minimal animal toxicity. In human colorectal cancer xenografts, chemotherapy with HydroCuP was extremely effective in both oxaliplatin-sensitive and resistant models. The favorable in vivo tolerability of HydroCuP was also correlated to an encouraging biodistribution profile. Additionally, no signs of drug-related neurotoxicity and nephrotoxicity were observed. Altogether, these results demonstrate that HydroCuP appears worth of further investigation to evaluate its therapeutic activity towards a broad spectrum of solid malignancies.
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