Background: Research into gold-based drugs for a range of human diseases has seen a
revival in recent years. This article reviews the most important applications of gold products in different
fields of human pathology. Au(I) and Au(III) compounds have been re-introduced in clinical
practice for targeting the cellular components involved in the onset and progression of viral and
parasitic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
Results: After some brief historical notes, this article takes into account the applications of gold
compounds against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and also in tuberculosis and in rheumatoid arthritis
treatment. The use of gold containing drugs in the cure of cancer are then considered, with special
emphasis to the use of nanoparticles and to the photo-thermal cancer therapy. The use of colloidal
gold in diagnostics, introduced in the last decade is widely discussed. As a last point a survey
on the adverse effects and on the toxicity of the various gold derivatives in use in medicine is
Conclusion: In this review, we described the surprisingly broad spectrum of possible uses of gold
in diagnostics and in therapeutic approaches to multiple human diseases, ranging from degenerative
to infectious diseases, and to cancer. In particular, gold nanoparticles appear as attractive elements
in modern clinical medicine, combining high therapeutic properties, high selectivity in targeting
cancer cells and low toxicity.