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Cellular Mechanisms and Prospective Applications of Hypericin in Photodynamic Therapy

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During the last decades, Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) has been established as a powerful alternative approved by health agencies of several countries for treatment of various malignant and some non-malignant diseases. PDT makes use of the light-induced destruction of target cells by formation of cytotoxic products in the presence of a photosensitizing agent and oxygen. The light-dependent tumor destructive properties of Hypericin have drawn attention to its promising application as a photosensitizer in the frame of PDT. Hypericin is a naturally occurring secondary metabolite in plants of the Hypericum genus, with Hypericum perforatum (St. John's wort) as it is a commonly known representative. This review focuses on the cellular mechanisms of Hypericin-based phototoxicity and provides an outlook for future application of Hypericin as a fluorescing and photosensitizing agent for diagnosis and treatment of cancerous diseases, respectively.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Cell death mechanisms; Clinical anti-cancer treatment; Hypericin; Photodynamic Therapy; Photophysical Diagnosis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Molecular Biology, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34, 5020 Salzburg,Austria.

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.

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