Free course

Metals in medicine

Free statement of participation on completion
Metals in medicine

This free 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.

First Published: 10/12/2018

Updated: 17/02/2020