Palladium and Platinum Complexes of the Antimetabolite Fludarabine with Vastly Enhanced Selectivity for Tumour over Non-Malignant Cells
The purine derivative fludarabine is part of frontline therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). It has shown positive effects on solid tumours such as melanoma, breast, and colon carcinoma in clinical phase I studies. As the treatment of CLL cells with combinations of fludarabine and metal complexes of antitumoural natural products, e.g., illudin M ferrocene, has led to synergistically enhanced apoptosis, in this research study different complexes of fludarabine itself. Four complexes bearing a trans -[Br(PPh 3 ) 2 ]Pt/Pd fragment attached to atom C-8 via formal η 1 -sigma or η 2 -carbene bonds were synthesised in two or three steps without protecting polar groups on the arabinose or adenine. The platinum complexes were more cytotoxic than their palladium analogues, with low single-digit micromolar IC 50 values against cells of various solid tumour entities, including cisplatin-resistant ones and certain B-cell lymphoma and CLL, presumably due to the ten-fold higher cellular uptake of the platinum complexes. However, the palladium complexes interacted more readily with isolated Calf thymus DNA. Interestingly, the platinum complexes showed vastly greater selectivity for cancer over non-malignant cells when compared with fludarabine.