GLOBOCAN 2012 estimates 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide. Cancer is rapidly becoming a major public health concern in India as well, with the number of new cancer cases anticipated to double within the next 20 years. The percentage of currently approved metallodrugs is very low, in contrast to the majority of drugs available as organic compounds. The search for alternative drugs to cisplatin, carboplatin and other derivatives is highly needed due to their severe side effects including nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity. Ruthenium, among other transition metal complexes appears to be a possible candidate for cancer therapy in the near future. The most significant rationale is ruthenium’s octahedral chemistry and greater propensity to undergo redox reactions. The hypoxic environment of tumors favors the reduction of inert ruthenium (III) to active ruthenium (II) which opens new prospects for the development of novel prodrugs. Although studies suggest that ruthenium complexes penetrate well within the tumor cells and bind effectively to DNA, its binding to proteins is not very well explained. Ruthenium complexes are presently receiving great attention in the fields of biological, pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry as anticancer agents. This review poses a comprehensive overview of the studies on competent anticancer ruthenium complexes and the role of these metal complexes in relation to their anticancer properties as well as those under clinical trials.
Keywords: Anti-cancer drugs, Cancer, Metallodrugs, Ruthenium complexes.