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Advances in Chemistry
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 859730, 21 pages
Review Article

Anticancer Activities of Mononuclear Ruthenium(II) Coordination Complexes

1Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, University of Fort Hare, Private Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa
2Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation, Private Bag 0082, Gaborone, Botswana

Received 10 October 2014; Revised 18 December 2014; Accepted 25 January 2015

Academic Editor: M. Paula Robalo

Copyright © 2015 William M. Motswainyana and Peter A. Ajibade. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ruthenium compounds are highly regarded as potential drug candidates. The compounds offer the potential of reduced toxicity and can be tolerated in vivo. The various oxidation states, different mechanism of action, and the ligand substitution kinetics of ruthenium compounds give them advantages over platinum-based complexes, thereby making them suitable for use in biological applications. Several studies have focused attention on the interaction between active ruthenium complexes and their possible biological targets. In this paper, we review several ruthenium compounds which reportedly possess promising cytotoxic profiles: from the discovery of highly active compounds imidazolium [trans-tetrachloro(dmso)(imidazole)ruthenate(III)] (NAMI-A), indazolium [trans-tetrachlorobis(1H-indazole)ruthenate(III)](KP1019), and sodium trans-[tetrachloridobis(1H-indazole)ruthenate(III)] (NKP-1339) to the recent work based on both inorganic and organometallic ruthenium(II) compounds. Half-sandwich organometallic ruthenium complexes offer the opportunity of derivatization at the arene moiety, while the three remaining coordination sites on the metal centre can be functionalised with various coordination groups of various monoligands. It is clear from the review that these mononuclear ruthenium(II) compounds represent a strongly emerging field of research that will soon culminate into several ruthenium based antitumor agents.