Background: The incorporation of selenium (Se) atom onto organic scaffolds is a very promising approach to obtain more active and selective compounds against several types of cancer. During the last decade, a plethora of organoselenium compounds have been reported with very potent anticancer activity through diverse mechanisms of action, some of the most interesting being autophagy, angiogenesis, affectation of cancer stem cells and lethal mitosis. Several studies have related Se status and different selenoproteins with the development of Leishmania. Furthermore, one of the most used approaches for seeking new antitrypanosomal drugs is the drug repositioning. Considering both facts, our research group is developing organoselenium derivatives with dual activity against cancer and Leishmaniasis.
Objective: The objective of this review is to gather, for the first time, every organic selenocompound with this dual activity. Thereby, the synthetic procedures will be discussed, along with their most important biological effects in both pathologies.
Conclusion: To conclude, the reported results show that the introduction of Se atom onto organic molecules is a valid rational approach to obtain dual anticancer/leishmanicidal agents. Furthermore, the synthetic procedures needed are quite straightforward and occur with good yields. Thus, bisacylimidoselenocarbamates and diselenides are very good candidates to further develop as dual agents.