Precisely localizing therapeutic agents in neoplastic areas would greatly improve their efficacy for killing tumor cells and reduce their toxicity to normal cells. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising cancer treatment modality, and near-infrared fluorescence imaging (NIRF-I) is a sensitive and noninvasive approach for in vivo cancer detection. This review focuses on the current efforts to engineer single molecule constructs that allow these two modalities to be combined to achieve a high level of selectivity for cancer treatment. The primary component of these so called killer beacons is a fluorescent photosensitizer responsible for both imaging and therapy. By attaching other components, e.g. various DNA- or peptide-based linkers, quenchers or cancer cell-specific delivery vehicles, their primary diagnostic and therapeutic functions as well as their target specificity and pharmacological properties can be modulated. This modular design makes these agents customizable, offering the ability to assemble a few simple and often interchangeable functional modules into beacons with totally different functions. This review will summarize following three types of killer beacons: photodynamic molecular beacons, traceable beacons and beacons with built-in apoptosis sensor. Despite the rapid progress in killer beacon development, numerous challenges remain before these beacons can be translated into clinics, such as photobleaching, delivery efficiency and cancerspecificity. In this review we outline the basic principles of killer beacons, the current achievements and future directions, including possible cancer targets and different therapeutic applications.
Ontario Cancer Institute/University of Toronto, MaRS Center, TMDT 5-363, 101 College Street, Toronto, ON M5G 1L7,Canada.
Publication date: August 1, 2007
More about this publication?
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.