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Bioinorganic Applications of Coordination Chemistry (Worksheet)

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    Name: ______________________________

    Section: _____________________________

    Student ID#:__________________________

    Work in groups on these problems. You should try to answer the questions without referring to your textbook. If you get stuck, try asking another group for help.

    Learning Objectives

    • Identify the topics, principles, concepts and methodologies in inorganic coordination chemistry that are essential toward a deeper understanding of the application you are studying.
    • Study one sub-topic (chosen as a small group), do a literature search, write a report and make a brief presentation to the class about the compounds and their chemistry and useful application.
    • Thoroughness in reading the chapter and analyzing the underlying concepts necessary for understanding the chemistry of the topic.
    • Quality of group discussion and participation of all persons in accomplishing the objectives.
    • Insightful and accurate presentation and report that portrays the chemistry of the topic.

    The chemistry of life is so complex that many aspects of chemistry are needed to study it. About 30% of proteins contain bound metal ions and many biochemical processes depend critically upon aspects that are considered to be inorganic chemistry. Additionally, pharmaceutical compounds containing metals were among the first to be used in medicine and have a history dating back to antiquity. During the later part of the 20th century, metal-containing compounds began to play an increasing role in diagnostic and therapeutic medicine, so that this class of compounds is called metallo-pharmaceuticals. This activity will help you apply what you have learned about coordination chemistry to a few of the fields in biochemistry and medicine.

    Preliminary Assignment

    Read chapter 6 sections 6.2 and 6.5. Think about the topic (below) that you want to work on.


    1. Form groups of three. Choose roles of captain, recorder and reflector.
    2. Read the chapter with a view toward noting the underlying topics, principles, concepts and methodologies needed in order to comprehensively understand it.
    3. Answer the critical thinking questions listed below (giving the group consensus). And decide who is going to be responsible for preparing the report, annotated bibliography and powerpoint presentation.
    4. Turn in the products of this activity (annotated bibliography, group report of answers to critical thinking questions, and the powerpoint presentation).
    5. Prepare and present report as assigned.

    Group Topics

    1. Oxygen transport by heme and non-heme proteins (Fe and Cu).
    2. Chelating agents for heavy metals (BAL, EDTA or penicillamine).
    3. Platinum antitumor agents (cisplatin and related compounds).
    4. Gold compounds for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
    5. Vanadium coordination compounds as insulin mimics.
    6. Technetium radiopharmaceuticals for imaging the body with respect to function.

    Critical Thinking Questions

    1. The topics are broad and you will have to make some choices to narrow down the topic to fit this activity. Do preliminary literature searching to find some good references that have the chemical structures and basic description of the compounds of your topic. Consult your instructor for a useful book on medicinal applications of coordination chemistry (Chris Jones and John thornback, “Medicinal Applications of coordination Chemistry, RSC Publishing, Cambridge, UK, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-85404-596-9).
    2. Once you have narrowed the field, answer the following questions:
      1. What is the chemical structure of the ligand bound to the metal for this application. What attributes of the ligand are important for this application (for example, ligand donor atoms, design for a specific chelate, charge, lipophilicity, shape, etc.)
      2. Outline the pertinent chemistry of the metal, including what attributes of the metal are important for this application (for example, oxidation states, magnetic properties, binding specificity, preferred geometry of ligands, lability or inertness, etc).
      3. What is the structure of the complex?
      4. What special attributes of the complex are important for its function in this application?
      5. Choose one specific example and describe how the complex functions in this example, with data, figures and results from the literature.
    3. Prepare a powerpoint presentation answering the questions in number 2 above, adding other pertinent information.
    4. Using the presentation, report to the class about what you learned. Turn in the powerpoint presentation, answers to question 2 and the annotated bibliography.

    Sample Schedule

    May 22 Start activity, sign up for a topic.
    May 27 Come to class with literature references, time for group to work on critical thinking questions
    June 5 Group reports
    June 9 Group reports, continued, all reports and bibliographies turned in on this date.


    • Susan Jackels, Seattle University

    Bioinorganic Applications of Coordination Chemistry (Worksheet) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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