Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Chemistry Dept.


Shari U. Dunham

Second Advisor

Rebecca R. Conry

Third Advisor

Stephen U. Dunham


In 1952, Dwyer and coworkers began testing a series of metal complexes for potential inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in animals.[l] The complexes tested were unsuitable for such studies due to their high toxicity. Therefore, no further work was done on the project. However, in 1965, Rosenberg and coworkers revisited the possibility of potential metal-based drugs. Serendipitously, they discovered that cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(lI) (cisplatin) inhibits cell division in E. coli.[2] Further studies of this and other platinum compounds revealed inhibition of tumor cell lines sarcoma 180 and leukemia LI2l0 in mice.[l] Cisplatin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1970 as a chemical chemotherapeutic agent in the treatment of cancer. The drug has primarily been used in the treatment of testicular and ovarian cancers, although the powerful chemotherapeutic properties of the compound indicate use against a variety of other cancers.[3] The toxicity of this compound, however, warrants the development of other metal-based potential antitumor agents. The success of cisplatin, a transition-metal-based chemotherapeutic, opened the doors to a host of research on the antitumor effects of other transition-metal complexes. Beginning in the 1970s, researchers looked to rhodium for potential use in antitumor complexes. Dirhodium complexes with bridging equatorial ligands (Figure I) were the primary focus for this research. The overwhelming majority of these complexes were dirhodium(II) carboxylate complexes, containing two rhodium(II) centers, four equatorial ligands in a lantero formation around the metal center, and an axial ligand on either end. The family of complexes in Figure 1 will be referred to as dirhodium(II) carboxylate complexes. The dirhodium centers are each d? with a metal-metal bond between them. Although d? atoms are paramagnetic, the two unpaired electrons pair to make the complex diamagnetic. The basic formula of the dirhodium(lI) carboxylate complexes is Rh?(RCOO)?(L)? with R being methyl, ethyl, propyl, or butyl groups and L being water or the solvent in which the complex was crystalized. Of these dirbodium(II) carboxylate complexes, our research focuses on Rb la and two other similar complexes Rh2 and Rh3 (Figure 2). Rh2 is an activated form of Rhla, with four acetonitrile groups in place of two of the bidentate acetate ligands. Rh3 is similar to Rhla, with trifluoromethyl groups in place of the methyl groups on the acetate ligands.


Rhodium compounds, Cancer -- Treatment, DNA-ligand interactions, DNA-drug interactions

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