Metallohelices emulate the properties of short cationic α-helical peptides
Naturally occurring peptides in many living systems perform antimicrobial and anticancer host defence roles, but their potential for clinical application is limited by low metabolic stability and relatively high costs of goods. Self-assembled helical metal complexes provide an attractive synthetic platform for non-peptidic architectures that can emulate some of the properties of short cationic α-helical peptides, with tuneable charge, shape, size and amphipathicity. Correspondingly there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that these supramolecular architectures exhibit bioactivity that emulates that of the natural systems. We review that evidence in the context of synthetic advances in the area, driven by the potential for biomedical applications. We note some design considerations for new biologically-relevant metallohelices, and give our outlook on the future of these compounds as therapeutic peptidomimetics.