Cisplatin and derivatives are highly effective in the treatment of a wide range of cancer types; however, these metallodrugs display low selectivity, leading to severe side effects. Additionally, their administration often results in the development of chemoresistance, which ultimately results in therapeutic failure. This scenario triggered the study of other transition metals with innovative pharmacological profiles as alternatives to platinum, ruthenium- (e.g., KP1339 and NAMI-A) and gold-based (e.g., Auranofin) complexes being among the most advanced in terms of clinical evaluation. Concerning the importance of improving the in vivo selectivity of metal complexes and the current relevance of ruthenium and gold metals, this review article aims to survey the main research efforts made in the past few years toward the design and biological evaluation of target-specific ruthenium and gold complexes. Herein, we give an overview of the inorganic and organometallic molecules conjugated to different biomolecules for targeting membrane proteins, namely cell adhesion molecules, G-protein coupled receptors, and growth factor receptors. Complexes that recognize the progesterone receptors or other targets involved in metabolic pathways such as glucose transporters are discussed as well. Finally, we describe some complexes aimed at recognizing cell organelles or compartments, mitochondria being the most explored. The few complexes addressing targeted gene therapy are also presented and discussed.
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