It has been a long story of the development of anticancer metallopharmaceuticals since the identification of cisplatin.
Advances in metallodrugs discovery during the past 40 years have made it an ever-growing area of research in medicinal
inorganic chemistry. Meanwhile, the emerging of N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) chemistry has stimulated the
newly burgeoning interests in the biomedical applications of metal-NHC complexes. This review will detail what have
been achieved hitherto in the research of metal-NHC complexes as potential anti-tumor agents coupled with gold, silver,
copper, platinum and palladium. Their mechanism of action will also be discussed. All the results obtained indicate that
this promising approach is worthy of more focuses and further studies.
Keywords: NHCs, NHC-metal complexes, anti-tumor, biological evaluation.
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