The first example of chelate therapy was performed during World War II when BAL (2,3-dimercapto-1-propanol; British Anti Lewisite [Figure 10.4A]) was applied as antagonist against arsenic containing poison gas. BAL, being a very soft Lewis base, preferentially coordinates to soft heavy metal ions. Thus, aside from arsenic, As(III), the chelate will be highly efficient in treatment of mercury toxication. Today, however, BAL is exclusively utilized in connection with acute gold poisoning in patients undergoing treatment with gold containing pharmaceuticals (Section 10.6.5). An advantage of BAL is its lipophilic character, which facilitates transport into the cells. However, the drug itself is toxic and must be administered with great care.
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