Tuberculosis (TB) which is caused by the resilient pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) has re-emerged to become a leading public health problem in the world. The growing number of multi-drug resistant MTB strains and the more recently emerging problem with the extensively drug resistant strains of the pathogen are greatly undermining conventional anti-TB therapeutic strategies which are lengthy and expose patients to toxicity and other unwanted side effects. The search for new anti-TB drugs essentially involves either the repurposing of existing organic drugs which are now off patent and already FDA approved, the synthesis of modified analogues of existing organic drugs, with the aim of shortening and improving drug treatment for the disease, or the search for novel structures that offer the possibility of new mechanisms of action against the mycobacterium. Inorganic medicinal chemistry offers an alternative to organic drugs through opportunities for the design of therapeutics that target different biochemical pathways. The incorporation of metal ions into the molecular structure of a potential drug offers the medicinal chemist an opportunity to exploit structural diversity, have access to various oxidation states of the metal and also offer the possibility of enhancing the activity of an established organic drug through its coordination to the metal centre. In this review, we summarize what is currently known about the antitubercular capability of metal complexes, their mechanisms of action and speculate on their potential applications in the clinic.
Keywords: Antimycobacterial activity, antitubercular activity, inorganic medicinal chemistry, metal complexes, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.