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A homoleptic Gold-DTC complex with potential for maintenance therapy of SCLC P-1306

Dr Nikolas Gunkel, DKFZ



Lung cancer is the leading cause of death among men and women in North America and attracts substantial pharmaceutical investment. However, in contrast to non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) therapies, where significant progress has been made with targeted agents and immunotherapies, the small cell lung cancer (SCLC) landscape has remained static for more than 30 years. SCLC has been fittingly referred to as “a graveyard for drug development”.


We have recently developed a homoleptic dithiocarbamate gold complex which shows an unprecedented activity and selectivity for SCLC cells. The compound  and its specific mode of action addresses the main issues of current SCLC therapies in that it acts equally well on naïve and chemotherapy resistant tumor cells and in that it shows a benign tox profile and a large therapeutic window in animal models, suggesting the potential for long term maintenance treatment of patients. Our data also suggest that the compound is fully compatible with existing first line therapeutics and eligible for precise patient stratification, important prerequisites for the success of clinical trials.

Commercial Opportunity

DKFZ seeks a industrial partner and or VC funding for a spin-off company for further development of a drug candidate comprising combination of a dithiocarbamate such as disulfiram and cyclodextrin, with a source of a heavy metal.

Development Status

We tested successfully in vitro and in vivo the lead compound and improved derivates, demonstrating superiority over standard therapeutics.  We have secured financing for a mouse clinical trial, testing the robustness of our concept in a genetically diverse cohort of patient derived tumors.  We have developed a bioanalytical method suitable for the entire development process. The compound is suitable for oral application.

Patent Situation

Priority patent EP 16193797.4 filed October 13 in 2016 as "COMPOSITIONS COMPRISING DITHIOCARBAMATE AND CYCLODEXTRIN". A subsequent international PCT application has been published as WO 2018/069525. 

Patent application EP19155958.2, filed February 7th 2019 as "IMPROVED DITHIOCARMABATE BASED COMPOUNDS, THERAPIES AND DIAGNOSTICS"

Further Reading

no scientific paper has been published.


A homoleptic Gold-DTC complex with potential for maintenance therapy of SCLC P-1306