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Keywords:

  • bioinorganic chemistry;
  • bioorganometallic chemistry;
  • imaging agents;
  • organometallic chemical biology;
  • organometallic compounds

Abstract

Organometallic compounds are renowned for their remarkable applications in the field of catalysis, but much less is known about their potential in chemical biology. Indeed, such compounds have long been considered to be either unstable under physiological conditions or cytotoxic. As a consequence, little attention has been paid to their possible utilisation for biological purposes. Because of their outstanding physicochemical properties, which include chemical stability, structural diversity and unique photo- and electrochemical properties, however, organometallic compounds have the ability to play a leading role in the field of chemical biology. Indeed, remarkable examples of the use of such compounds—notably as enzyme inhibitors and as luminescent agents—have recently been reported. Here we summarise recent advances in the use of organometallic compounds for chemical biology purposes, an area that we define as “organometallic chemical biology”. We also demonstrate that these recent discoveries are only a beginning and that many other organometallic complexes are likely to be found useful in this field of research in the near future.