Transition metal catalysis: a new paradigm in bioorthogonal drug activation
Clavadetscher, Jessica Veronica
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Powerful tools have emerged in the past few years to allow the sensing, imaging and modulation of biological processes in living systems. Bioorthogonal organometallic reactions are transformations catalysed by transition metals, which are compatible within a biological environment. Palladium-mediated cross-coupling and decaging reactions, for example, have been successfully applied to catalyse non-natural chemical transformations within a biological milieu. Up until now, copper-catalysed cycloaddition reactions have been used extensively for the conjugation, immobilisation, and purification of biomolecules, but their further application in vivo has been limited by the inherent toxicity of copper. Herein, different transition metal catalysts were designed and applied in cellular and in vivo manipulations. Polymeric solid supports were functionalised with palladium nanoparticles and used as biocompatible, heterogeneous catalysts in selective decaging and cross-coupling reactions to activate fluorescent probes and synthesise cytotoxic anticancer drugs in situ. In order to gain tumour selectively, targeting functionalities were incorporated into the particles to allow the spatial control of the selective activation of labelling probes. The simultaneous synthesis of two different anticancer agents intracellularly, by two totally different mechanisms (in situ synthesis and decaging), is reported. The cellular toxicity of copper was addressed by entrapping copper nanoparticles on a polymeric solid support, allowing the activation of labelling probes, as well as the synthesis of an anticancer agent from two benign components through the well-known copper catalysed azide-alkyne cycloaddition. The biocompatibility of the copper catalysts in vivo was shown by implantation in zebrafish embryos.