Dual function luminescent transition metal complexes for cancer theranostics: The combination of diagnosis and therapy

Chung Nga Ko, Guodong Li, Chung Hang Leung*, Edmond Dik Lung Ma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer is an aggressive disease involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade other parts of the body. Despite intense interest from clinicians and biomedical researchers, the lack of complete understanding of the mechanisms of both the development and recurrence of cancer remains one of the greatest challenges in cancer therapy. With the continuous advancement of modern healthcare, the theranostic approach, which is regarded as the combination of therapy and diagnosis, has been viewed as a possible tool aiding the transformation of conventional, non-specific medicine towards contemporary precision or personalized medicine. Compared with traditional diagnostic modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and radionuclide imaging, optical imaging possesses a number of notable advantages that renders it as an attractive diagnostic modality. Among optical sensors, transition metal complexes have attracted recent attention as alternatives to conventional dyes due to their advantages of large Stokes shifts, long lifetimes, and ease of structural modifications. Representative examples of design strategies for transition metal complexes for cancer diagnostics and theranostics are discussed in this review, including chemo-theranostic, photo-triggered theranostic, targeted theranostic and combination theranostic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-103
Number of pages25
JournalCoordination Chemistry Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cancer diagnostic
  • Dual-function metal complexes
  • Optical imaging
  • Theranostic
  • Transition-metal complexes


Dive into the research topics of 'Dual function luminescent transition metal complexes for cancer theranostics: The combination of diagnosis and therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this