Metals in medicine
Metals in medicine

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Metals in medicine

4 Metals for therapeutic applications

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 metals in drugs is the focus of the next two sections, and as you will see it is a wide-ranging, exciting and ever-expanding topic.

Metals and their compounds have had a variety of medical applications throughout history – some more successful than others. Some of the earliest examples date back to 3000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians were using copper sulfate to sterilise the water used in their tonics. Zinc was also reportedly used by the Romans to promote the healing of wounds.

You will consider some examples of the historical uses of metals in medicine next – starting with gold.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371