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, 24 (3a), 1529-44

Metals and Metal Compounds in Cancer Treatment

  • PMID: 15274320

Metals and Metal Compounds in Cancer Treatment

Bernard Desoize. Anticancer Res.


Metals and metal compounds have been used in medicine for several thousands of years. In this review we summarized the anti-cancer activities of the ten most active metals: arsenic, antimony, bismuth, gold, vanadium, iron, rhodium, titanium, gallium and platinum. The first reviewed metal, arsenic, presents the anomaly of displaying anti-cancer and oncogenic properties simultaneously. Some antimony derivatives, such as Sb2O3, salt (tartrate) and organic compounds, show interesting results. Bismuth directly affects Helicobacter pylori and gastric lymphoma; the effects of bismuth complexes of 6-mercaptopurine are promising. Gold(I) and (III) compounds show anti-tumour activities, although toxicity remains high. Research into the potential use of gold derivatives is still ongoing. Several derivatives of vanadium show anti-proliferative activity, but their toxicity must be overcome. Several pieces of evidence indicate that iron deprivation could be an excellent therapeutic approach; furthermore, it is synergistic with classic anti-cancer drugs. Rhodium belongs to the same group as platinum and it also presents interesting activity, but with the same nephrotoxicity. Several rhodium compounds have entered phase I clinical trials. In contrast to the platinum complexes, titanium derivatives showed no evidence of nephrotoxicity or myelotoxicity; titanocene dichloride is undergoing clinical trial. The anti-proliferative effect of gallium could be related to its competition with the iron atom; in addition a derivative appears to reverse the multidrug resistance. The last metal reviewed, platinum, has given some of the very best anti-cancer drugs. Four derivatives are used today in the clinic; their mechanism of action and of resistance are described.

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