Special Issue "Unconventional Anticancer Metallodrugs and Strategies to Improve their Pharmacological Profile"

A special issue of Inorganics (ISSN 2304-6740). This special issue belongs to the section "Bioinorganic Chemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2018).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Maria Contel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY 11210, USA
Interests: Medicinal inorganic chemistry; anticancer and antimicrobial compounds; synthetic organometallic chemistry; mode of action; gold-based heterometallic compounds; homogeneous catalysis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For the past forty years, metal-based drugs have been widely used for the treatment of cancer. Cisplatin and follow-up drugs carboplatin (ParaplatinTM) and oxaliplatin (EloxatinTM) have been the gold standard for metallodrugs in clinical settings as antineoplastic agents. While effective, these drugs (either alone or in combination therapy) have faced a number of clinical challenges resulting from their limited spectrum of activity, high toxicity leading to significant side effects, resistance, poor water solubility, low bioavailability and short circulating time. In the past ten years, various unconventional non-platinum metal-based agents have emerged as a potential alternative for cancer treatment. These compounds are highly effective and selective in cancers resistant to cisplatin and other chemotherapeutic agents. Research in this area has recently exploded with a relevant number of patents and clinical trials, in addition to reports in scientific journals. Furthermore, in parallel to the synthesis of coordination and organometallic compounds comprising many different metals and unconventional platinum-based derivatives, researchers are focused in optimizing mechanistic and pharmacological features of promising drug candidates. This Special Issue aims to highlight the latest advances in anticancer metallodrugs with a focus on unconventional anticancer agents, as well as novel activation, targeting and delivery strategies aimed at improving their pharmacological profile.

Prof. Dr. Maria Contel
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • unconventional anticancer metallodrugs
  • novel delivery strategies
  • novel activation and targeting strategies
  • mechanistic studies

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Unconventional Anticancer Metallodrugs and Strategies to Improve Their Pharmacological Profile
Inorganics 2019, 7(7), 88; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics7070088 - 10 Jul 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1066
Abstract
For the past 41 years, metal-based drugs have been widely used for the treatment of cancer [...] Full article

Research

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Communication
Functionalizing NaGdF4:Yb,Er Upconverting Nanoparticles with Bone-Targeting Phosphonate Ligands: Imaging and In Vivo Biodistribution
Inorganics 2019, 7(5), 60; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics7050060 - 30 Apr 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1530
Abstract
Lanthanide-doped upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) transform near infrared light (NIR) into higher-energy UV and visible light by multiphotonic processes. Owing to such unique feature, UCNPs have found application in optical imaging and have been investigated for the NIR light activation of prodrugs, including transition [...] Read more.
Lanthanide-doped upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) transform near infrared light (NIR) into higher-energy UV and visible light by multiphotonic processes. Owing to such unique feature, UCNPs have found application in optical imaging and have been investigated for the NIR light activation of prodrugs, including transition metal complexes of interest in photochemotherapy. Besides, UCNPs also function as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents and positron emission tomography (PET) probes when labelled with radionuclides such as 18F. In this contribution, we report on a new series of phosphonate-functionalized NaGdF4:Yb,Er UCNPs that show affinity for hydroxyapatite (inorganic constituent of bones), and we discuss their potential as bone targeting multimodal (MRI/PET) imaging agents. In vivo biodistribution studies of 18F-labelled NaGdF4:Yb,Er UCNPs in rats indicate that surface functionalization with phosphonates favours the accumulation of nanoparticles in bones over time. PET results reveal leakage of 18F for phosphonate-functionalized NaGdF4:Yb,Er and control nanomaterials. However, Gd was detected in the femur for phosphonate-capped UCNPs by ex vivo analysis using ICP-MS, corresponding to 6–7% of the injected dose. Full article
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Article
Cytotoxic Gold(I) Complexes with Amidophosphine Ligands Containing Thiophene Moieties
Inorganics 2019, 7(2), 13; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics7020013 - 29 Jan 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1744
Abstract
A new phosphine ligand bearing a thiophene moiety, C4H3SNHCOCH2CH2PPh2 (L), has been prepared by reaction of the aminophosphine Ph2PCH2CH2NH2 with thiophenecarbonylchloride in the presence of [...] Read more.
A new phosphine ligand bearing a thiophene moiety, C4H3SNHCOCH2CH2PPh2 (L), has been prepared by reaction of the aminophosphine Ph2PCH2CH2NH2 with thiophenecarbonylchloride in the presence of triethylamine. The coordination behavior towards gold(I), gold(III) and silver(I) species has been studied and several metal compounds of different stoichiometry have been achieved, such as [AuL2]OTf, [AuXL] (X = Cl, C6F5), [Au(C6F5)3L], [AgL2]OTf or [Ag(OTf)L]. Additionally, the reactivity of the chloride gold(I) species with biologically relevant thiolates was explored, thus obtaining the neutral thiolate compounds [AuL(SR)] (SR = 2-thiocitosine, 2-thiolpyridine, 2-thiouracil, 2-thionicotinic acid, 2,3,4,6-tetra-6-acetyl-1-thiol-β-d-glucopyranosato or thiopurine). The antitumor activity of the compounds was measured by the MTT method in several cancer cells and the complexes exhibit excellent cytotoxic activity. Full article
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Article
Oxidative Assets Toward Biomolecules and Cytotoxicity of New Oxindolimine-Copper(II) and Zinc(II) Complexes
Inorganics 2019, 7(2), 12; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics7020012 - 26 Jan 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1655
Abstract
A new oxindolimine ligand derived from isatin (1H-indole-2,3-dione) and 2-aminomethylbenzimidazole was synthesized, leading to two novel complexes after metalation with copper(II) perchlorate or zinc(II) chloride, [Cu(isambz)2](ClO4)2 (complex 1) and [Zn(isambz)Cl2 [...] Read more.
A new oxindolimine ligand derived from isatin (1H-indole-2,3-dione) and 2-aminomethylbenzimidazole was synthesized, leading to two novel complexes after metalation with copper(II) perchlorate or zinc(II) chloride, [Cu(isambz)2](ClO4)2 (complex 1) and [Zn(isambz)Cl2] (complex 2). This new ligand was designed as a more lipophilic compound, in a series of oxindolimine–metal complexes with antitumor properties, having DNA, mitochondria, and some proteins, such as CDK1 kinase and topoisomerase IB, as key targets. The new complexes had their reactivity to human serum albumin (HSA) and DNA, and their cytotoxicity toward tumor cells investigated. The binding to CT-DNA was monitored by circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy and fluorescence measurements using ethidium bromide in a competitive assay. Consequent DNA cleavage was verified by gel electrophoresis with complex 1, in nmolar concentrations, with formation of linear DNA (form III) after 60 min incubation at 37 °C, in the presence of hydrogen peroxide, which acts as a reducing agent. Formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was observed, monitored by spin trapping EPR. Interaction with HSA lead to α-helix structure disturbance, and formation of a stable radical species (HSA–Tyr·) and carbonyl groups in the protein. Despite showing oxidative ability to damage vital biomolecules such as HSA and DNA, these new complexes showed moderate cytotoxicity against hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) and neuroblastoma (SHSY5Y) cells, similarly to previous compounds in this series. These results confirm DNA as an important target for these compounds, and additionally indicate that oxidative damage is not the leading mechanism responsible for their cytotoxicity. Additionally, this work emphasizes the importance of ligand characteristics and of speciation in activity of metal complexes. Full article
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Article
In Vitro Cytotoxicity and In Vivo Antitumor Efficacy of Tetrazolato-Bridged Dinuclear Platinum(II) Complexes with a Bulky Substituent at Tetrazole C5
Inorganics 2019, 7(1), 5; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics7010005 - 08 Jan 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1617
Abstract
Tetrazolato-bridged dinuclear platinum(II) complexes ([{cis-Pt(NH3)2}2(μ-OH)(μ-5-R-tetrazolato-N2,N3)]2+; tetrazolato-bridged complexes) are a promising source of next-generation platinum-based drugs. β-Cyclodextrin (β-CD) forms inclusion complexes with bulky organic compounds or substituents, changing their polarity [...] Read more.
Tetrazolato-bridged dinuclear platinum(II) complexes ([{cis-Pt(NH3)2}2(μ-OH)(μ-5-R-tetrazolato-N2,N3)]2+; tetrazolato-bridged complexes) are a promising source of next-generation platinum-based drugs. β-Cyclodextrin (β-CD) forms inclusion complexes with bulky organic compounds or substituents, changing their polarity and molecular dimensions. Here, we determined by 1H-NMR spectroscopy, the stability constants for inclusion complexes formed between β-CD and tetrazolato-bridged complexes with a bulky, lipophilic substituent at tetrazole C5 (complexes 13, phenyl, n-nonyl, and adamantyl substitution, respectively). We then determined the in vitro cytotoxicity and in vivo antitumor efficacy of complexes 13 against the Colon-26 colorectal cancer cell line in the absence or presence of equimolar β-CD. Compared with the platinum-based anticancer drug oxaliplatin (1R,2R-diaminocyclohexane)oxalatoplatinum(II)), complex 2 had similar cytotoxicity, complex 3 was moderately cytotoxic, and complex 1 was the least cytotoxic. The cytotoxicity of the complexes decreased in the presence of β-CD. When we examined the in vivo antitumor efficacy of complexes 13 (10 mg/kg) against homografted Colon-26 colorectal tumors in male BALB/c mice, they showed a relatively low tumor growth inhibition compared with oxaliplatin. However, in the presence of β-CD, complex 3 had higher in vivo antitumor efficacy than oxaliplatin, suggesting a new direction for future research into tetrazolato-bridged complexes with high in vivo antitumor activity. Full article
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Article
Investigation of 1-Methylcytosine as a Ligand in Gold(III) Complexes: Synthesis and Protein Interactions
Inorganics 2019, 7(1), 1; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics7010001 - 20 Dec 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1245
Abstract
The HIV nucleocapsid protein NCp7 was previously shown to play a number of roles in the viral life cycle and was previously identified as a potential target for small molecule intervention. In this work, the synthesis of the previously unreported complexes [Au(dien)(1MeCyt)]3+ [...] Read more.
The HIV nucleocapsid protein NCp7 was previously shown to play a number of roles in the viral life cycle and was previously identified as a potential target for small molecule intervention. In this work, the synthesis of the previously unreported complexes [Au(dien)(1MeCyt)]3+, [Au(N-Medien)(1MeCyt)]3+, and [Au(dien)(Cyt)]3+ is detailed, and the interactions of these complexes with the models for NCp7 are described. The affinity for these complexes with the target interaction site, the “essential” tryptophan of the C-terminal zinc finger motif of NCp7, was investigated through the use of a fluorescence quenching assay and by 1H-NMR spectroscopy. The association of [Au(dien)(1MeCyt)]3+ as determined through fluorescence quenching is intermediate between the previously reported DMAP and 9-EtGua analogs, while the associations of [Au(N-Medien)(1MeCyt)]3+ and [Au(dien)(Cyt)]3+ are lower than the previously reported complexes. Additionally, NMR investigation shows that the self-association of relevant compounds is negligible. The specifics of the interaction with the C-terminal zinc finger were investigated by circular dichroism spectroscopy and electrospray-ionization mass spectrometry. The interaction is complete nearly immediately upon mixing, and the formation of AuxFn+ (x = 1, 2, or 4; F = apopeptide) concomitant with the loss of all ligands is observed. Additionally, oxidized dimerized peptide was observed for the first time as a product, indicating a reaction via a charge transfer mechanism. Full article
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Article
Anti-Proliferative and Anti-Migration Activity of Arene–Ruthenium(II) Complexes with Azole Therapeutic Agents
Inorganics 2018, 6(4), 132; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics6040132 - 11 Dec 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1396
Abstract
The efficacy of organoruthenium complexes containing ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitors (CTZ: clotrimazole, KTZ: ketoconazole and FCZ: fluconazole) against tumor cells, and their interaction with important macro-biomolecules such as human serum albumin and DNA have been investigated here. Our experimental results indicated that these ruthenium(II) [...] Read more.
The efficacy of organoruthenium complexes containing ergosterol biosynthesis inhibitors (CTZ: clotrimazole, KTZ: ketoconazole and FCZ: fluconazole) against tumor cells, and their interaction with important macro-biomolecules such as human serum albumin and DNA have been investigated here. Our experimental results indicated that these ruthenium(II) complexes present spontaneous electrostatic interactions with albumin, and act as minor groove binders with the DNA. The ability of these Ru(II)–azole complexes to inhibit the proliferation of selected human tumor and non-tumor cell lines was determined by MTT assay. Complexes [RuCl(CTZ)(η6-p-cymene)(PPh3)]PF6 (3) and [RuCl(KTZ)(η6-p-cymene)(PPh3)]PF6 (4) were shown to be between 3- and 40-fold more cytotoxic than the free ligands and the positive control cisplatin. Complex 3 was selected to continue studies on the triple negative breast tumor cell line MDA-MB-231, inducing morphological changes, loss of adhesion, inhibition of colony formation, and migration through Boyden chambers, cell cycle arrest in the sub-G1 phase, and a mechanism of cell death by apoptosis. All these interesting results show the potential of this class of organometallic Ru(II) complexes as an antiproliferative agent. Full article
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Article
Development and Validation of Liquid Chromatography-Based Methods to Assess the Lipophilicity of Cytotoxic Platinum(IV) Complexes
Inorganics 2018, 6(4), 130; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics6040130 - 04 Dec 2018
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2520
Abstract
Lipophilicity is a crucial parameter for drug discovery, usually determined by the logarithmic partition coefficient (Log P) between octanol and water. However, the available detection methods have restricted the widespread use of the partition coefficient in inorganic medicinal chemistry, and recent investigations have [...] Read more.
Lipophilicity is a crucial parameter for drug discovery, usually determined by the logarithmic partition coefficient (Log P) between octanol and water. However, the available detection methods have restricted the widespread use of the partition coefficient in inorganic medicinal chemistry, and recent investigations have shifted towards chromatographic lipophilicity parameters, frequently without a conversion to derive Log P. As high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) instruments are readily available to research groups, a HPLC-based method is presented and validated to derive the partition coefficient of a set of 19 structurally diverse and cytotoxic platinum(IV) complexes exhibiting a dynamic range of at least four orders of magnitude. The chromatographic lipophilicity parameters φ0 and Log kw were experimentally determined for the same set of compounds, and a correlation was obtained that allows interconversion between the two lipophilicity scales, which was applied to an additional set of 34 platinum(IV) drug candidates. Thereby, a φ0 = 58 corresponds to Log P = 0. The same approaches were successfully evaluated to determine the distribution coefficient (Log D) of five ionisable platinum(IV) compounds to sample pH-dependent effects on the lipophilicity. This study provides straight-forward HPLC-based methods to determine the lipophilicity of cytotoxic platinum(IV) complexes in the form of Log P and φ0 that can be interconverted and easily expanded to other metal-based compound classes. Full article
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Article
Synthesis, Reactivity Studies, and Cytotoxicity of Two trans-Iodidoplatinum(II) Complexes. Does Photoactivation Work?
Inorganics 2018, 6(4), 127; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics6040127 - 03 Dec 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1340
Abstract
trans-Platinum complexes have been the landmark in unconventional drugs prompting the development of innovative structures that might exhibit chemical and biological profiles different to cisplatin. Iodido complexes signaled a new turning point in the platinum drug design field when their cytotoxicity was [...] Read more.
trans-Platinum complexes have been the landmark in unconventional drugs prompting the development of innovative structures that might exhibit chemical and biological profiles different to cisplatin. Iodido complexes signaled a new turning point in the platinum drug design field when their cytotoxicity was reevaluated and reported. In this new study, we have synthesized and evaluated diodidoplatinum complexes trans-[PtI2(amine)(pyridine)] bearing aliphatic amines (isopropylamine and methylamine) and pyridines in trans configuration. X-ray diffraction data support the structural characterization. Their cytotoxicity has been evaluated in tumor cell lines such as SAOS-2, A375, T-47D, and HCT116. Moreover, we report their solution behavior and reactivity with biological models. Ultraviolet-a (UVA) irradiation induces an increase in their reactivity towards model nucleobase 5′-GMP in early stages, and promotes the release of the pyridine ligand (spectator ligand) at longer reaction times. Density Functional calculations have been performed and the results are compared with our previous studies with other iodido derivatives. Full article
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Article
Gold(III) Pyridine-Benzimidazole Complexes as Aquaglyceroporin Inhibitors and Antiproliferative Agents
Inorganics 2018, 6(4), 123; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics6040123 - 20 Nov 2018
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1655
Abstract
Gold compounds have been proven to be novel and versatile tools for biological applications, including as anticancer agents. Recently, we explored the potential of Au(III) complexes with bi-dentate N-donor ligands as inhibitors of the membrane water and glycerol channels aquaporins (AQPs), involved in [...] Read more.
Gold compounds have been proven to be novel and versatile tools for biological applications, including as anticancer agents. Recently, we explored the potential of Au(III) complexes with bi-dentate N-donor ligands as inhibitors of the membrane water and glycerol channels aquaporins (AQPs), involved in different physiological and pathophysiological pathways. Here, eight new Au(III) complexes featuring a pyridine-benzimidazole scaffold have been synthesized and characterized via different methods. The stability of all the compounds in aqueous solution and their reactivity with glutathione have been investigated by UV–visible spectroscopy. The Au(III) compounds, tested for their AQPs inhibition properties in human Red Blood Cells (hRBC), are potent and selective inhibitors of AQP3. Furthermore, the compounds’ antiproliferative effects have been studied in a small panel of human cancer cells expressing AQP3. The complexes show only very moderate anticancer effects in vitro and are mostly active against the melanoma A375 cells, with marked expression of AQP3 at the level of the nuclear membrane. In general, the AQP3 inhibition properties of these complexes hold promises to develop them as chemical probes to study the function of this protein isoform in biological systems. Full article
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Review

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Review
Designing Ruthenium Anticancer Drugs: What Have We Learnt from the Key Drug Candidates?
Inorganics 2019, 7(3), 31; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics7030031 - 01 Mar 2019
Cited by 40 | Viewed by 2778
Abstract
After nearly 20 years of research on the use of ruthenium in the fight against cancer, only two Ru(III) coordination complexes have advanced to clinical trials. During this time, the field has produced excellent candidate drugs with outstanding in vivo and in vitro [...] Read more.
After nearly 20 years of research on the use of ruthenium in the fight against cancer, only two Ru(III) coordination complexes have advanced to clinical trials. During this time, the field has produced excellent candidate drugs with outstanding in vivo and in vitro activity; however, we have yet to find a ruthenium complex that would be a viable alternative to platinum drugs currently used in the clinic. We aimed to explore what we have learned from the most prominent complexes in the area, and to challenge new concepts in chemical design. Particularly relevant are studies involving NKP1339, NAMI-A, RM175, and RAPTA-C, which have paved the way for current research. We explored the development of the ruthenium anticancer field considering that the mechanism of action of complexes no longer focuses solely on DNA interactions, but explores a diverse range of cellular targets involving multiple chemical strategies. Full article
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Review
Nano-Based Systems and Biomacromolecules as Carriers for Metallodrugs in Anticancer Therapy
Inorganics 2019, 7(1), 2; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics7010002 - 20 Dec 2018
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2474
Abstract
Since the discovery of cisplatin and its potency in anticancer therapy, the development of metallodrugs has been an active area of research. The large choice of transition metals, oxidation states, coordinating ligands, and different geometries, allows for the design of metal-based agents with [...] Read more.
Since the discovery of cisplatin and its potency in anticancer therapy, the development of metallodrugs has been an active area of research. The large choice of transition metals, oxidation states, coordinating ligands, and different geometries, allows for the design of metal-based agents with unique mechanisms of action. Many metallodrugs, such as titanium, ruthenium, gallium, tin, gold, and copper-based complexes have been found to have anticancer activities. However, biological application of these agents necessitates aqueous solubility and low systemic toxicity. This minireview highlights the emerging strategies to facilitate the in vivo application of metallodrugs, aimed at enhancing their solubility and bioavailability, as well as improving their delivery to tumor tissues. The focus is on encapsulating the metal-based complexes into nanocarriers or coupling to biomacromolecules, generating efficacious anticancer therapies. The delivery systems for complexes of platinum, ruthenium, copper, and iron are discussed with most recent examples. Full article
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Review
Iron and Copper Intracellular Chelation as an Anticancer Drug Strategy
Inorganics 2018, 6(4), 126; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/inorganics6040126 - 30 Nov 2018
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 4119
Abstract
A very promising direction in the development of anticancer drugs is inhibiting the molecular pathways that keep cancer cells alive and able to metastasize. Copper and iron are two essential metals that play significant roles in the rapid proliferation of cancer cells and [...] Read more.
A very promising direction in the development of anticancer drugs is inhibiting the molecular pathways that keep cancer cells alive and able to metastasize. Copper and iron are two essential metals that play significant roles in the rapid proliferation of cancer cells and several chelators have been studied to suppress the bioavailability of these metals in the cells. This review discusses the major contributions that Cu and Fe play in the progression and spreading of cancer and evaluates select Cu and Fe chelators that demonstrate great promise as anticancer drugs. Efforts to improve the cellular delivery, efficacy, and tumor responsiveness of these chelators are also presented including a transmetallation strategy for dual targeting of Cu and Fe. To elucidate the effectiveness and specificity of Cu and Fe chelators for treating cancer, analytical tools are described for measuring Cu and Fe levels and for tracking the metals in cells, tissue, and the body. Full article
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