Iron plays a crucial role in a number of metabolic pathways including oxygen transport, DNA synthesis, and ATP generation. Although insufficient systemic iron can result in physical impairment, excess iron has also been implicated in a number of diseases including ischemic heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Iron chelators are agents which bind iron and facilitate its excretion. Experimental iron chelators have demonstrated potent anti-neoplastic properties in a number of cancers in vitro. These agents have yet to be translated into clinical practice, however, largely due to the significant side effects encountered in pre-clinical models. A number of licensed chelators, however, are currently in clinical use for the treatment of iron overload associated with certain non-neoplastic diseases. Deferasirox is one such agent and the drug has shown significant anti-tumor effects in a number of in vitro and in vivo studies. Deferasirox is orally administered and has demonstrated a good side effect profile in clinical practice to date. It represents an attractive agent to take forward into clinical trials of iron chelators as anti-cancer agents.
Keywords: cancer; chelators; deferasirox; iron; tumorigenesis.
© The Author(s) 2013.