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Platinum Metals Rev., 1995, 39, (4), 179

Noble Metals Utilised in Drugs and Healthcare

Metal Compounds in Cancer Therapy, Metals in Health and Disease Series - Volume 1 Edited By Simon P. Fricker, Chapman & Hall, London, 1994, 256 pages, ISBN 0-412-54280-3, £55.00

  • A.G.S.
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There are about 92 elements in the Periodic Table to be understood and exploited for medical purposes, and this is the first volume in a new “Metals in Health and Disease Series”. Metals in particular have an immense potential - as is shown by the function and diversity of trace metals in metalloproteins, and until recendy many, if not most, have been overlooked.

The series sets out to explore the beneficial roles of metals in health and disease. Each volume of invited reviews will target a specific area, accumulating and evaluating published data. The series is aimed at graduates, post-graduates and researchers. It will also be of interest to a much wider readership.

Of course, Pt(II) is very much a success story, and not surprisingly features in the first two (S. P. Fricker and L. R. Kelland) of ten reviews. It is an interesting example of serendipity -Rosenberg’s initial experiments in 1965 were to find if electrical fields applied across platinum electrodes effected the growth of Escherichia coli . In 1971 cisplatin entered clinical trials, and today the area is still extensively researched to achieve better understanding, and to identify better applications. Cisplatin and carboplatin are now top selling anti-cancer drugs. No doubt they will be bettered by other preparations, some already undergoing clinical trials, aimed at lessening unpleasant side effects, exploring other specificities, and introducing oral application.

The particular success of platinum in the treatment of testicular, ovarian and other soft tissue cancers is well documented. While platinum has many advantages there is no reason why other metals should not find similar application. Thus reviews on gold (C. F. Shaw), ruthenium compounds (G. Sava), rhodium, iridium and palladium (R. G. Buckley) are authoritative and provide a valuable update where the approach and general understanding is less well documented. The often unique properties of metals offer many opportunities. Metals can participate in biological redox reactions, undergo ligand substitution with biological molecules with a specific stereochemistry about the metal centre and with a controlled reactivity. Some metals have radioactive isotopes, with potential for tumour imaging or therapy. Further chapters cover other metals, adding diversity to the text.

This book is presented in an attractive, professional and readable manner. For those in the area it is an essential reading/reference work. For others it will provide an awareness of a growth area. It is an important series to launch at this time and is strongly recommended.

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