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Last updated:

April 21, 2022


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Unlimited Duration

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This course, Metals in medicine, focuses on the use of metals and their compounds in the production of images of internal structures in our bodies and on the role of metal-containing compounds as drugs in the treatment of disease.

In terms of medical imaging, the high atomic numbers of many metals, their magnetism and radioactivity have all been harnessed in a range of techniques to provide contrast between tissues and to highlight diseased or otherwise changed tissues. These techniques have become some of the most important weapons in our fight against disease.

When considering drugs used for the treatment of disease, your first thoughts might lean towards treatments involving organic compounds. But metals and their compounds have been used for medical applications since ancient times. The use of metal-containing drugs is a wide-ranging, exciting and ever-expanding research area.

In this course you will learn the underlying chemistry behind both uses of metal-containing compounds and see their major impact on human health.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • State the different types of imaging used in medicine, and describe how X-rays are exploited in anatomical imaging
  • Explain how 1H NMR signals from living tissue can be converted into images useful for diagnostic medicine
  • Explain what a MRI contrast agent is and describe how the properties of metal complexes be applied to this role
  • Describe the role of metals in pharmaceutical science
  • Explain how aspects of the coordination chemistry of cisplatin underpin its effectiveness as an anticancer treatment, and describe the shortcomings of this drug which have necessitated the search for alternatives.

Course Curriculum

  • Introduction 00:10:00
  • Learning outcomes 00:07:00
  • Imaging in medicine 00:15:00
    • Anatomical imaging using X-rays 00:20:00
    • Computed tomography (CT) scans 00:15:00
    • X-ray contrast agents 00:07:00
    • Barium sulfate 00:15:00
    • Other X-ray contrast agents 00:10:00
    • Anatomical imaging using MRI 00:15:00
    • MRI in practice 00:20:00
    • MRI: theoretical background 00:25:00
    • MRI: Producing an image 00:20:00
    • Spatial localisation 00:25:00
    • Contrast in MRI 00:15:00
    • Relaxation time 00:25:00
    • T1- and T2-weighted images 00:20:00
    • Chemistry of the lanthanides 00:25:00
    • Ionic radii of the lanthanides 00:20:00
    • Paramagnetism of lanthanide complexes 00:20:00
    • MRI contrast agents 00:20:00
    • Gadolinium complexes 00:25:00
    • Metals for therapeutic applications 00:10:00
    • Brief historical background 00:30:00
    • Current use of metals in medicine: an overview 00:40:00
    • Cancer therapy: the cisplatin story 00:25:00
    • Aquation of cisplatin 00:25:00
    • Biological targets of cisplatin 00:25:00
    • Platinum binding to DNA 00:20:00
    • The 1,2-intrastrand cross-links 00:25:00
    • Anticancer effect 00:25:00
    • Why is transplatin inactive? 00:15:00
    • Cisplatin in the body 00:15:00
    • Side effects of cisplatin 00:15:00
    • Resistance to cisplatin 00:15:00
    • Limitations of cisplatin 00:15:00

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