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Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) appear to be ideal drug targets--they are disease-associated, extracellular enzymes with a dependence on zinc for activity. This apparently straightforward target, however, is much more complex than initially realized. Although disease associated, the roles for particular enzymes may be healing rather than harmful making broad-spectrum inhibition unwise; targeting the catalytic zinc with specificity is difficult, since other related proteases as well as non-related proteins can be affected by some chelating groups. While the failure of early-generation MMP inhibitors dampened enthusiasm for this type of drug, there has recently been a wealth of studies examining the basic biology of MMPs which will greatly inform new drug trials in this field.