Dr. James Coverdale

University of Warwick

First-of-its-Kind Metallo-Catalyst Drug Selectively Kills Cancer Cells

One of the main challenges faced in cancer drug discovery and development, is the selective targeting of malignant cells without impacting on patients' healthy cells. For the first time ever, researchers at the University of Warwick have achieved selective cancer cell death by targeting cancer-specific metabolites using a metal-based catalytic drug. Dr. James Coverdale describes how these so-called 'metallo-catalyst' compounds work and how technologies such as ICP-MS is central to their research concerning metals in medicine.

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Dr. James Coverdale
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Dr. James Coverdale

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Dr. Coverdale studied for a... More
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Dr. James Coverdale

University of Warwick

Dr. Coverdale studied for a master’s degree in chemistry at Warwick University and completed a PhD in chemistry at Warwick in 2017 under the supervision of Professor Peter J. Sadler and Professor Martin Wills. The work during his PhD was concerned with the synthesis, development and biological application of novel organo-metallic transfer hydrogenation catalysts. The work builds on Nobel Prize-winning chemistry of Professor R. Noyori for the asymmetric reduction of ketones using a chiral Ru catalyst. They achieved, for the first time, asymmetric ‘in-cell’ catalysis using an external catalyst. As a postdoctoral research fellow his current project concerns the development of a quantitative framework to model and understand the speciation (i.e. protein bound, ‘free’ metal… etc) of extracellular zinc in the body, and how certain pathological conditions can affect zinc speciation. In turn, they want to understand, in a quantitative fashion, how this change effects zinc distribution in the body, zinc flux into cells, and the progression of various diseases that have been linked to zinc (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, immunity, brain diseases e.g. Alzheimer's). Dr. Coverdale is very passionate about his research and keen to spread awareness of the work done, both at Warwick but also in the ‘bio-inorganic’ community in a more general sense.