Effect of regiochemistry and methylation on the anticancer activity of a ferrocene‐containing organometallic nucleoside analogue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Media K. Ismail
  • Marium Rana
  • Sarah L. Horswell
  • Louise Male
  • Huy V. Nguyen
  • Isolda Romero‐Canelón
  • Edward A. Wilkinson
  • Nikolas J. Hodges

Colleges, School and Institutes


Four new bis-substituted ferrocene derivatives containing either a hydroxyalkyl or methoxyalkyl group and either a thyminyl or methylthyminyl group have been synthesised and characterised by a range of spectroscopic and analytical techniques. They were included in a structure-activity-relationship (SAR) study probing anticancer activities in osteosarcoma (bone cancer) cell lines and were compared with a known lead compound, 1-(S,R p), a nucleoside analogue that is highly toxic to cancer cells. Biological studies using the MTT assay revealed that a regioisomer of ferronucleoside 1-(S,R p), which only differs from the lead compound in being substituted on two cyclopentadienyl rings rather than one, was over 20 times less cytotoxic. On the other hand, methylated derivatives of 1-(S,R p) showed comparable cytotoxicities to the lead compound. Overall these studies indicate that a mechanism of action for 1-(S,R p) cannot proceed through alcohol phosphorylation and that its geometry and size, rather than any particular functional group, are crucial factors in explaining its high anticancer activity.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Apr 2020


  • Ferrocene, anticancer, bioorganometallic, metallodrug, nucleoside analogue