Since the discovery of the DNA intercalation process by Lerman in 1961 thousands of organic, inorganic octahedral (particularly ruthenium(II) and rhodium(III)) and square-planar (particularly platinum(II)) compounds have been developed as potential anticancer agents and diagnostic agents. The design and synthesis of new drugs is focused on bis-intercalators which have two intercalating groups linked via a variety of ligands, and synergistic drugs, which combine the anticancer properties of intercalation with other functionalities, such as covalent binding or boron-cages (for radiation therapy). Advances in spectroscopic techniques mean that the process of DNA intercalation can be examined in far greater detail than ever before, yielding important information on structure-activity relationships. In this review we examine the history and development of DNA intercalators as anticancer agents and advances in the analysis of DNA-drug interactions.
- DNA intercalation