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Home / Drugs / Starting with G / Gallium nitrate
Gallium nitrate

Gallium nitrate is a drug that is used to treat hyper-calcemia, or too much calcium in the blood. This condition may occur when individuals develop various types of cancer. Gallium nitrate is also known by the common brand name Ganite.
CategoriesAntineoplastic Agents
ManufacturersGenta inc


For the treatment of hypercalcemia. Also intended for the treatment of non-hodgkin's lymphoma.


Gallium nitrate exerts hypocalcemic effect by inhibiting calcium resorption from bone, possibly by stabilizing bone matrix, thereby reducing increased bone turnover. Gallium nitrate inhibits the growth of various lymphoma cell lines in vitro and exhibits antitumor activity in patients with lymphoma. The mechanism(s) of cytotoxicity is (are) only partly understood but appears to involve a two-step process: (1) targeting of gallium to cells, and (2) acting on multiple, specific intracellular processes. Gallium shares certain chemical properties with iron; therefore, it binds avidly to the iron transport protein transferrin. Transferrin-gallium complexes preferentially target cells that express transferrin receptors on their surface. Expression of transferrin receptors is particularly high on lymphoma cells. Cellular uptake of the gallium-transferrin complex leads to inhibition of cellular proliferation primarily via disruption of iron transport and homeostasis and blockade of ribonucleotide reductase. Recent studies have shown that cellular uptake of gallium leads to activation of caspases and induction of apoptosis. In phase II trials in patients with relapsed or refractory lymphoma, the antitumor activity of gallium nitrate is similar to, or better than, that of other commonly used chemotherapeutic agents.

mechanism of action

Gallium nitrate is believed to exert a hypocalcemic effect by inhibiting calcium resorption from bone. Gallium nitrate localizes preferentially where bone resorption and remodeling is occurring, and inhibits osteoclast activity. Inhibition of resorption may occur via a reduction in increased bone turnover. It seems to enhance hydroxyapatite function, inhibit osteocalcin, and inhibit the vacuolar ATPase on the osteoclast ruffled membrane. All these aid in the reduction of bone resorption.

half life

Alpha: 1 hour. Beta: 24 hours, but lengthens to 72 to 115 hours with prolonged intravenous infusion.

route of elimination

Gallium nitrate is not metabolized either by the liver or the kidney and appears to be significantly excreted via the kidney.