Open Access Research article

Ability of Group IVB metallocene polyethers containing dienestrol to arrest the growth of selected cancer cell lines

Michael R Roner1*, Charles E Carraher23, Kimberly Shahi1, Yuki Ashida234 and Girish Barot23

Author Affiliations

1 University of Texas, Arlington, Department of Biology, Arlington, TX 76010, USA

2 Florida Atlantic University, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA

3 Florida Center for Environmental Studies, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410, USA

4 Tokushima University, Department of Engineering, Tokushima 770-8506, Japan

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:358  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-358

Published: 7 October 2009



Monomeric Group IVB (Ti, Zr and Hf) metallocenes represent a new class of antitumor compounds. There is literature on the general biological activities of some organotin compounds. Unfortunately, there is little information with respect to the molecular level activity of these organotin compounds. We recently started focusing on the anti-cancer activity of organotin polymers that we had made for other purposes and as part of our platinum anti-cancer effort.


For this study, we synthesized a new series of metallocene-containing compounds coupling the metallocene unit with dienestrol, a synthetic, nonsteroidal estrogen. This is part of our effort to couple known moieties that offer antitumor activity with biologically active units hoping to increase the biological activity of the combination. The materials were confirmed to be polymeric using light scattering photometry and the structural repeat unit was verified employing matrix assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry and infrared spectroscopy results.


The polymers demonstrated the ability to suppress the growth of a series of tumor cell lines originating from breast, colon, prostrate, and lung cancers at concentrations generally lower than those required for inhibition of cell growth by the commonly used antitumor drug cisplatin.


These drugs show great promise in vitro against a number of cancer cell lines and due to their polymeric nature will most likely be less toxic than currently used metal-containing drugs such as cisplatin. These drugs also offer several addition positive aspects. First, the reactants are commercially available so that additional synthetic steps are not needed. Second, synthesis of the polymer is rapid, occurring within about 15 seconds. Third, the interfacial synthetic system is already industrially employed in the synthesis of aromatic nylons and polycarbonates. Thus, the ability to synthesize large amounts of the drugs is straight forward.