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

5.7 Side effects of cisplatin

Cisplatin is a potent cytotoxic drug, which has limited targeting within the organism.

By its nature, it will bind to DNA within cells regardless of whether those cells are cancerous or not.

Fortunately, there are aspects of the biochemistry of cancer cells which render them more susceptible to damage from cisplatin, but there are still serious side effects associated with both DNA- and protein-bound platinum.

This limits the maximum dose of cisplatin to about 100 mg per day for up to five consecutive days.

The toxic side effects can be partially controlled by inhibiting the formation of Pt–protein complexes or by ‘rescuing’ platinum from these Pt–protein complexes.

A high cap c times l super minus concentration in the solution containing the drug helps to inhibit the formation of cap r times cap s super minus and RSH complexes, hence cisplatin is administered in a saline drip. This reduces kidney damage dramatically.

Rescue agents such as Structure 14 and 15 can be administered 3–4 h after cisplatin treatment.

Structure 14 (left) and 15 (right)

These agents displace platinum from sulfur-containing biomolecules but crucially do not affect Pt–DNA complexes.

A typical treatment regime will involve infusions of cisplatin followed by infusions of rescue agents, followed by a period of rest to allow normal cells which have been damaged by the cytotoxic drug to recover.

This cycle will typically be repeated several times to maximise the benefit of the treatment.


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