Pyrophosphates have important functions in living systems and thus pyrophosphate-containing molecules and their more stable bisphosphonate analogues have the potential to be used as drugs for treating many diseases including cancer and viral infections. Both pyrophosphates and bisphosphonates are polyanionic at physiological pH and, whilst this is essential for their biological activity, it also limits their use as therapeutic agents. In particular, the high negative charge density of these compounds prohibits cell entry other than by endocytosis, prevents transcellular oral absorption and causes sequestration to bone. Therefore, prodrug strategies have been developed to temporarily disguise the charges of these compounds. This review examines the various systems that have been used to mask the phosphorus-containing moieties of pyrophosphates and bisphosphonates and also illustrates the utility of such prodrugs.
Department of Chemistry
University of Cambridge