New compounds for cancer diagnosis and treatment

New family of isothiocyanate and isoselencyanate compounds suitable for use as drugs - with theranostic, chemopreventive, diagnostic and anticancer properties - as well as fluorescent probes.

Title of the patent Isothiocyanate and isoselencyanate compounds
Thematic area Pharmaceutical
Ownership Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo
Inventors Carmela Fimognari, Andrea Milelli, Piero Sestili
Protection Italy (with possibility to extend internationally)
Licensing status Available for licensing agreements
Keywords Isothiocyanate, Anticancer, Theranostics, probe, Fluorescence, Intracellular localization
Filed on Dec 31, 2019

Isothiocyanates (ITCs) - which are found in plants belonging to the family of the crociferous - such as cabbages - are chemical compounds with significant antitumor and chemopreventive properties; developing new ITC derivatives for enhanced anticancer activities is of great importance in the field of cancer treatment.

Theranostics represents an approach combining diagnosis and therapy of the disease, which aims at timely therapeutic treatments and improved patient care.

Developing multifunctional theragnostic agents is a challenge for personalized oncology as it can integrate cancer diagnosis and therapy.

The invention consists of new derivatives isothiocyanates and isoselencyanates with a powerful cytostatic and cytotoxic activity, able to act on both solid and hematological tumors. Derivatives bind to DNA and accumulate at the level of mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum of cancer cells, promoting the eradication of cancer cells.

Thanks to their fluorescence, derivatives can simultaneously perform a diagnostic and therapeutic action. Detection of cancer cells by imaging is followed by cytotoxicity towards cancer cells. They can be used as new theranostic drugs, or as compounds that can supplement cancer diagnosis and therapy.

The invention may allow to overcome some limitations of traditional cancer therapy, afflicted by problems such as the development of chemoresistance and low therapeutic index of many drugs.

These innovative compounds may allow to develop drugs with a high profile of therapeutic efficacy, which can also act as fluorescent probes for direct observation of specific cellular organelles in biomedical applications.


  • Personalised cancer therapies
  • Theranostics, for simultaneous diagnosis and treatment of cancer
  • Fluorescence for direct observation of specific cellular organelles in biomedical applications