Issue 9, 2011

Gold compounds as therapeutic agents for human diseases


The application of gold in medicine is traceable for several thousand years and Au(I) compounds have been used clinically to treat rheumatoid arthritis since the last century. Recently research into gold-based drugs for a range of human diseases has seen a renaissance. Old as well as new Au(I) and Au(III) compounds have been used and designed with an aim of targeting cellular components that are implicated in the onset or progression of cancers, rheumatoid arthiritis, viral and parasitic diseases. In addition, new disease targets have been found for gold compounds that have given insight into the mechanism of action of these compounds, as well as in the molecular pathophysiology of human diseases. Here we discuss the rationale for the design and use of gold compounds that have specific and selective targets in cells to alleviate the symptoms of a range of human diseases. We summarise the most recent findings in this research and our own discoveries to show that gold compounds can be developed to become versatile and powerful drugs for diseases caused by dysfunction of selenol and thiol containing proteins.

Graphical abstract: Gold compounds as therapeutic agents for human diseases

Article information

Article type
Critical Review
05 Jun 2011
28 Jun 2011
First published
14 Jul 2011

Metallomics, 2011,3, 863-873