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Carbohydrate-Metal Complexes and their Potential as Anticancer Agents

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Platinum complex-based chemotherapy is one of the major treatment options of many malignancies. Although severe side effects occur, and only a limited spectrum of tumors can be cured, Pt compounds are used in every second therapy scheme. Thus, many different drug design strategies have been employed for improving the properties of anticancer drugs including pH or redox activation in the tumor, variation of the metal center and therefore the redox and ligand exchange properties, the application of multinuclear metal complexes, the development of targeted approaches, etc. Application of carbohydrate-metal complexes is an example of a targeted approach exploiting the biochemical and metabolic functions of diverse sugars in living organisms for transport and accumulation. Natural carbohydrates and synthetic derivatives possess a manifold of donors endowing them with the ability to coordinate metal centers and providing some additional advantages over other ligands, e.g., biocompatibility, non-toxicity, enantiomeric purity, water solubility, and wellexplored chemistry. In recent years, several examples of carbohydrate compounds have been developed for diverse medicinal applications ranging from compounds with antibiotic, antiviral, or fungicidal activity and anticancer compounds.

Herein, metal complexes with carbohydrate ligands are reviewed and the role of the carbohydrate carriers on the antineoplastic activity of these compounds, both in vitro and in vivo, is described.

Keywords: Antitumor chemotherapy; carbohydrates; metal complexes; review

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Vienna, Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Waehringer Str. 42, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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