Bioinorganic Medicinal Chemistry

The Wilson Group explores the use of metal ions and complexes for medicinal purposes. The novel properties of metal ions provide opportunities to discover new therapeutic and diagnostic modalities that are not accessible to organic molecules. The unique ligand substitution reactions, magnetic properties, and radioactivity of metal ions are exploited currently in pharmaceutical agents, such as cisplatin (cis-diamminedichlorplatinum(II)), Dotarem ([Gd(DOTA)]-1), and 99mTc-Cardiolite.


Medicinal Properties of Ruthenium and Osmium Complexes

Platinum-based complexes have enjoyed widespread success as anticancer drugs. More recently, ruthenium complexes, and to a lesser extent osmium complexes, have demonstrated therapeutic potential. The utility of ruthenium complexes for cancer treatment is reflected by the progression of NAMI-A and KP 1019 (see below) to clinical trials for their anti-metastatic and cytotoxic properties, respectively. The Wilson Group is pursuing the design and synthesis of novel ruthenium and osmium compounds that exhibit unique biological mechanisms of action. We are also exploring strategies to expand the scope of these metallopharmaceuticals towards other diseases.



Ligand Design for Metallic Radioisotopes

Radioactive decay can be harnessed for both therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Three components are generally required (see below): the radioisotope that relays diagnostic information via penetrating radiation or therapeutic effects via non-penetrating radiation; a targeting agent that delivers the radioisotope to the desired biological site; and a chelating agent that stably binds the radioisotope en route to its target. Often, the lack of a suitable chelating agent for a given radioisotope will limit its further clinical use. The Wilson Group works on the design of new ligands that are capable of chelating novel metallic radioisotopes with the aim of expanding the tool box of nuclear medicine.