Iron chelation in the treatment of cancer: a new role for deferasirox?

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Iron plays a crucial role in a number of metabolic pathways including oxygen transport, DNA synthesis, and ATP generation. Although insufficient systemic iron can result in physical impairment, excess iron has also been implicated in a number of diseases including ischemic heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Iron chelators are agents which bind iron and facilitate its excretion. Experimental iron chelators have demonstrated potent anti-neoplastic properties in a number of cancers in vitro. These agents have yet to be translated into clinical practice, however, largely due to the significant side effects encountered in pre-clinical models. A number of licensed chelators, however, are currently in clinical use for the treatment of iron overload associated with certain non-neoplastic diseases. Deferasirox is one such agent and the drug has shown significant anti-tumor effects in a number of in vitro and in vivo studies. Deferasirox is orally administered and has demonstrated a good side effect profile in clinical practice to date. It represents an attractive agent to take forward into clinical trials of iron chelators as anti-cancer agents.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-91
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


  • Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Benzoates, Deferoxamine, Humans, Iron Chelating Agents, Neoplasms, Pyridones, Triazoles