Intersection of Inorganic Chemistry and Nanotechnology for the Creation of New Cancer Therapies

Anuj S. Shah, Bapurao Surnar, Nagesh Kolishetti, Shanta Dhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ConspectusSince its discovery in 1965, the inorganic drug cisplatin has become a mainstay of cancer therapies and has inspired many platinum (Pt)-based compounds to solve various issues of toxicity and limitations associated with the original cisplatin. However, many of these drugs/prodrugs continue to be plagued by an array of side effects, limited circulation, and half-life and off-target effects. To solve this issue, we have constructed an array of platinum-based prodrugs on a Pt(IV) skeleton, which provides more favorable geometry and hydrophobicity, easier functionalization, and ultimately better targeting abilities. Each of these Pt(IV) prodrugs aims to either combine cisplatin with other agents for a combination therapeutic effect or improve the targeting of cisplatin itself, all for the more effective treatment of specific cancers. Our developed prodrugs include Platin-A, which combines cisplatin with the anti-inflammatory agent aspirin, Platin-M, which is functionalized with a mitochondria-targeting moiety, and Platin-B and Platin-Cbl, which combine cisplatin with components to combat cellular resistance to chemotherapy. At the same time, however, we recognize the crucial role of nanotechnology in improving the efficacy of cisplatin prodrugs and other inorganic compounds for the treatment of cancers. We describe several key benefits provided by nanomedicine that vastly improve the reach and utility of cisplatin prodrugs, including the ability of biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles (NPs) to deliver these agents with precision to the mitochondria, transport drugs across the blood-brain barrier, and target cisplatin prodrugs to specific cancers using various ligands. In addition, we highlight our progress in the engineering of innovative new polymers to improve the release patterns, pharmacokinetics, and dosages of cancer therapies. In this Account, we aim to describe the growing need for collaboration between the fields of inorganic chemistry and nanotechnology and how new advancements can not only improve on traditional chemotherapeutic agents but also expand their reach to entirely new subsets of cancers. In addition to detailing the design and principles behind our modifications of cisplatin and the efficacy of these new prodrugs against aggressive, cisplatin-resistant, or metastatic cancers, we also shed light on nanotechnology's essential role in protecting inorganic drugs and the human body from one another for more effective disease treatment without the off-target effects with which it is normally associated. We hope that this perspective into the important intersection between inorganic medicinal chemistry and nanotechnology will inspire future research on cisplatin prodrugs and other inorganic agents, innovative polymer and NP design, and the ways in which these two fields can greatly advance cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-296
Number of pages14
JournalAccounts of Materials Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 25 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)


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