Research Topic

Rational Drug Design of Metal Complexes for Cancer Therapy

About this Research Topic

In recent years, metal compounds have gained an undisputed role in therapy, particularly in cancer treatment. Metal complexes are endowed with electronic and structural features such as variable oxidation states and coordination geometries, redox activity, and the ability to coordinate ligands in a three-dimensional configuration that can be exploited in drug design - allowing for the fine-tuning of chemical and biological properties. Since discovery of the antiproliferative activity of cisplatin in 1965, coordination complexes have been extensively used in clinical treatment. However, their severe side-effects and the rise of drug resistance, has led to a real revolution in cancer drug research based on the rational design of non-platinum metal compounds aiming to overcome these limitations. 

Although there have been significant advances in the rational design of metal compounds for cancer treatment, the high occurrence of resistance and severe side effects associated with chemotherapy are still a challenge. New generations of metal compounds with new mechanisms of action, broader spectra, and improved anticancer properties are still needed. In this context, several inorganic and organometallic complexes of ruthenium, iron, gold, copper, osmium, cobalt, and titanium, among other metals, appear to be promising alternatives for cancer therapy. The combination of different therapeutic strategies aiming to target several different pathways within cancer cells, as well as the use of drug delivery platforms fostered by nanotechnology, might improve efficacy, however there are several hurdles for their effective translation.

The aim of this Research Topic is to cover the most recent developments in the field of metal compounds for cancer therapy. This Research Topic welcomes the submission of Original Research articles, Perspectives, and Reviews focused on, but not limited to, the following topics:

 • Design and synthetic strategies of new inorganic/organometallic compounds bearing antitumor activity
 • Biological evaluation of novel metal compounds
 • Mechanism of action (molecular targets/pathways involved)
 • Pharmacological properties of compounds
 • Drug delivery and novel therapeutic strategies

Topic Editors Alexandra Fernandes and Pedro Baptista are co-founders of Nano4 Global, a start-up dedicated to molecular nanodiagnostics. Dr. Fernandes is also co-founder of Heartgenetics SA, and Dr. Baptista holds a patent on optical sensors. The other Topic Editors declare no conflicting interests.


Keywords: cancer chemotherapy, inorganic/organometallic, medicinal chemistry, metal-based drug design, drug delivery, mechanism of action, nanomedicine


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

In recent years, metal compounds have gained an undisputed role in therapy, particularly in cancer treatment. Metal complexes are endowed with electronic and structural features such as variable oxidation states and coordination geometries, redox activity, and the ability to coordinate ligands in a three-dimensional configuration that can be exploited in drug design - allowing for the fine-tuning of chemical and biological properties. Since discovery of the antiproliferative activity of cisplatin in 1965, coordination complexes have been extensively used in clinical treatment. However, their severe side-effects and the rise of drug resistance, has led to a real revolution in cancer drug research based on the rational design of non-platinum metal compounds aiming to overcome these limitations. 

Although there have been significant advances in the rational design of metal compounds for cancer treatment, the high occurrence of resistance and severe side effects associated with chemotherapy are still a challenge. New generations of metal compounds with new mechanisms of action, broader spectra, and improved anticancer properties are still needed. In this context, several inorganic and organometallic complexes of ruthenium, iron, gold, copper, osmium, cobalt, and titanium, among other metals, appear to be promising alternatives for cancer therapy. The combination of different therapeutic strategies aiming to target several different pathways within cancer cells, as well as the use of drug delivery platforms fostered by nanotechnology, might improve efficacy, however there are several hurdles for their effective translation.

The aim of this Research Topic is to cover the most recent developments in the field of metal compounds for cancer therapy. This Research Topic welcomes the submission of Original Research articles, Perspectives, and Reviews focused on, but not limited to, the following topics:

 • Design and synthetic strategies of new inorganic/organometallic compounds bearing antitumor activity
 • Biological evaluation of novel metal compounds
 • Mechanism of action (molecular targets/pathways involved)
 • Pharmacological properties of compounds
 • Drug delivery and novel therapeutic strategies

Topic Editors Alexandra Fernandes and Pedro Baptista are co-founders of Nano4 Global, a start-up dedicated to molecular nanodiagnostics. Dr. Fernandes is also co-founder of Heartgenetics SA, and Dr. Baptista holds a patent on optical sensors. The other Topic Editors declare no conflicting interests.


Keywords: cancer chemotherapy, inorganic/organometallic, medicinal chemistry, metal-based drug design, drug delivery, mechanism of action, nanomedicine


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

09 November 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

09 November 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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