Next, we will consider the use of metals in imaging.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is widely used for the diagnosis of many ailments and it has been found that certain gadolinium complexes can be used to enhance the contrast of the image.

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By the 19th century Hg Cl was incorporated in a tonic known as ‘blue mass’ and prescribed for many ailments including such diverse conditions as constipation, toothache and depression.

The use of mercury compounds is now largely forbidden because of their poisonous properties, but they are still to be found in traditional therapies such as Chinese, Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicines.

It is therefore not surprising that a deficiency (or excess) of certain metals can severely compromise an organism, as we addressed briefly in Chapter 1.

Perhaps the most common example of a metal deficiency is that of iron, causing anaemia, which leads to fatigue and an increased chance of infection.

First, we will look at the use of metals as pharmaceuticals in general.

We will then consider metal homeostasis, looking in particular at the nature of those diseases which arise when metals are either deficient or present in excess and will see what treatments are available.

End of answer In the next two sections we will return to the role of metals in the body and in particular the problems that can arise from too little or too much of a metal and how this can be treated.

We have seen throughout this book just how vital metals are for many of the key biological processes in organisms.

The drug will need to be sufficiently stable so that it can have the desired effect before being broken down by metabolic processes and excreted, but not so stable as to remain in the body to become toxic.