Discovery of selective, antimetastatic and anti-cancer stem cell metallohelices via post-assembly modification
Helicates and related metallofoldamers, synthesised by dynamic self-assembly, represent an area of chemical space inaccessible by traditional organic synthesis, and yet with potential for discovery of new classes of drug. Here we report that water-soluble, optically pure Fe(II)- and even Zn(II)-based triplex metallohelices are an excellent platform for post-assembly click reactions. By these means, the in vitro anticancer activity and most importantly the selectivity of a triplex metallohelix Fe(II) system are dramatically improved. For one compound, a remarkable array of mechanistic and pharmacological behaviours is discovered: inhibition of Na+/K+ ATPase with potency comparable to the drug ouabain, antimetastatic properties (including inhibition of cell migration, re-adhesion and invasion), cancer stem cell targeting, and finally colonosphere inhibition competitive with the drug salinomycin.