The Human Body And Bioinorganic Chemistry

Since the human body functions by uptake, accumulation, transport, and storage of chemical compounds (cf. Table 10.1) the arbitrary differentiation between "organic" and "inorganic" matter is irrelevant and is only a historical relic. The double helix structure of DNA, for instance, could not be stabilized without the presence of mono- and divalent cations that compensate for the electrostatic repulsion between negatively charged phosphate groups. Electric nerve impulses as well as more complex trigger mechanisms are initiated by rapid bursts of ions across membranes, particularly Na+, K+, and Ca2+ ions. Degradation of organic molecules requires acid and base catalysis, which at physiological pH could not take place without the presence of either Lewis acids like zinc(II) or Lewis bases that could be inorganic anions. Electron transfer is essential for all energy conversion processes, and here redox active transition metals like iron and copper become indispensable.

It is evident that fundamental biological processes proceed in reactions that often involve inorganic substances in central roles. Thus, inorganic chemistry holds a huge potential for developing new pharmaceuticals that requires a thorough knowledge of interactions between metal ions and organic molecules; a field also known as coordination chemistry. Stability and kinetics of metal ions complexes will therefore be a central subject in this chapter describing inorganic drugs.

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