Advances in heterocycles as DNA intercalating cancer drugs

Aparna Das, Bimal Krishna Banik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The insertion of a molecule between the bases of DNA is known as intercalation. A molecule is able to interact with DNA in different ways. DNA intercalators are generally aromatic, planar, and polycyclic. In chemotherapeutic treatment, to suppress DNA replication in cancer cells, intercalators are used. In this article, we discuss the anticancer activity of 10 intensively studied DNA intercalators as drugs. The list includes proflavine, ethidium bromide, doxorubicin, dactinomycin, bleomycin, epirubicin, mitoxantrone, ellipticine, elinafide, and echinomycin. Considerable structural diversities are seen in these molecules. Besides, some examples of the metallo-intercalators are presented at the end of the chapter. These molecules have other crucial properties that are also useful in the treatment of cancers. The successes and limitations of these molecules are also presented.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Sciences Reviews
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • anticancer drugs
  • biological activity
  • DNA intercalators
  • heterocycles


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