Platinum-based anticancer agents: innovative design strategies and biological perspectives

Med Res Rev. 2003 Sep;23(5):633-55. doi: 10.1002/med.10038.


The impact of cisplatin on cancer chemotherapy cannot be denied. Over the past 20 years, much effort has been dedicated to discover new platinum-based anticancer agents that are superior to cisplatin or its analogue, carboplatin. Most structural modifications are based on changing one or both of the ligand types coordinated to platinum. Altering the leaving group can influence tissue and intracellular distribution of the drug, whereas the carrier ligand usually determines the structure of adducts formed with DNA. DNA-Pt adducts produced by cisplatin and many of its classical analogues are almost identical, and would explain their similar patterns of tumor sensitivity and susceptibility to resistance. Recently some highly innovative design strategies have emerged, aimed at overcoming platinum resistance and/or to introduce novel mechanisms of antitumor action. Platinum compounds bearing the 1,2-diaminocyclohexane carrier ligand; and those of multinuclear Pt complexes giving rise to radically different DNA-Pt adducts, have resulted in novel anticancer agents capable of circumventing cisplatin resistance. Other strategies have focused on integrating biologically active ligands with platinum moieties intended to selectively localizing the anticancer properties. With the rapid advance in molecular biology, combined with innovation, it is possible new Pt-based anticancer agents will materialize in the near future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Chemical
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Platinum Compounds / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Ligands
  • Platinum Compounds
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases
  • Cisplatin