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Metal-organic Nanopharmaceuticals

[ Vol. 8 , Issue. 3 ]


Benjamin Steinborn and Ulrich Lächelt*   Pages 163 - 190 ( 28 )


Coordinative interactions between multivalent metal ions and drug derivatives with Lewis base functions give rise to nanoscale coordination polymers (NCPs) as delivery systems. As the pharmacologically active agent constitutes a main building block of the nanomaterial, the resulting drug loadings are typically very high. By additionally selecting metal ions with favorable pharmacological or physicochemical properties, the obtained NCPs are predominantly composed of active components which serve individual purposes, such as pharmacotherapy, photosensitization, multimodal imaging, chemodynamic therapy or radiosensitization. By this approach, the assembly of drug molecules into NCPs modulates pharmacokinetics, combines pharmacological drug action with specific characteristics of metal components and provides a strategy to generate tailorable multifunctional nanoparticles. This article reviews different applications and recent examples of such highly functional nanopharmaceuticals with a high ‘material economy’.

Lay Summary: Nanoparticles, that are small enough to circulate in the bloodstream and can carry cargo molecules, such as drugs, imaging or contrast agents, are attractive materials for pharmaceutical applications. A high loading capacity is a generally aspired parameter of nanopharmaceuticals to minimize patient exposure to unnecessary nanomaterial. Pharmaceutical agents containing Lewis base functions in their molecular structure can directly be assembled into metal-organic nanopharmaceuticals by coordinative interaction with metal ions. Such coordination polymers generally feature extraordinarily high loading capacities and the flexibility to encapsulate different agents for a simultaneous delivery in combination therapy or ‘theranostic’ applications.


Cancer therapy, drug delivery, metal-organic frameworks, nanopharmaceuticals, nanoscale coordination polymers, photodynamic therapy, radiotherapy, theranostics.


Department of Pharmacy and Center for NanoScience (CeNS), LMU Munich, 81377 Munich, Department of Pharmacy and Center for NanoScience (CeNS), LMU Munich, 81377 Munich

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