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Free Content Editorial [ Hot Topic-I: Applications of the Photodynamic Therapy to Cancer,Water- and Vector-Borne Diseases (Guest Editor: Luigi E. Xodo )]

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Abstract:

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a clinically approved treatment modality for various types of diseases, including cancer, that produces a selective cytotoxic effect on the target cells. It involves the use of a photosensitizing molecule and a source of light with a wavelength that corresponds to the absorption band of the photosensitizer. After photoactivation, the photosensitizer occupies an excited triplet state from which it transfers its energy to neighboring oxygen molecules, thus generating singlet oxygen and reactive oxygen species (“oxidative stress”) which lead to cell death mediated by apoptosis and/or necrosis. PDT is less invasive than conventional chemotherapy, as the photosensitizer is not cytotoxic in the dark and the photoprocess is confined to the diseased tissue irradiated by light. In addition to the treatment of cancer and precancerous conditions, the use of PDT to cure microbial localized infections and inactivate pathogens is rapidly expanding.

This special issue will address (i) the application of nanotechnology to PDT for improving the delivery of photosensitizers to the diseased tissue; (ii) the molecular response of cancer cells to the naturally-occurring photosensitizer hypericin; (iii) the photosensitizing properties of pheophorbide, a chlorophyll derivative, as a free or conjugated molecule; (iv) applications of PDT to water- and vector-borne diseases.

Most of the clinically used photosensitizers are scarcely soluble in aqueous media, they do not accumulate efficiently in tumor tissues and often show an undesired liver accumulation. In an effort to overcome these shortcomings, research work has recently been directed to the development of nanoparticle-based photosensitizers. The contribution of Frochot and co-workers summarizes the use of nanoparticles (NPs) to enhance the delivery of scarcely soluble photosensitizers. NP technology offers a variety of advantages that are discussed in this review, including the transport of hydrophobic drugs in the blood, the possibility to decorate the NP surface with specific molecules in order to improve both uptake and tumor selectivity, the capacity of NPs to deliver a high “payload” in the diseased tissue and, in certain cases, the possibility to excite directly NPs to generate oxidative stress. The review describes the chemical nature of NPs and the recent advances in the area of non-polymeric nanoparticles. A comprehensive presentation of gold and silica nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, TiO2/ZnO and magnetic nanoparticles is provided.

Krammer and Verwanger focus their review on the molecular response of cancer cells to PDT. The authors provide a thorough analysis of the cellular response to hypericin-induced photodamage and describe how the hypericin-PDT dose can dictate cell growth or cell death. Low doses stimulate cell growth via the p38 or JNK survival pathways, whereas high doses favor apoptosis or autophagic cell death, depending on the availability of Bax/Bak. The different modes of cellular responses correlate with the PDT-protocol, photosensitizer localization, cell damage protection and available intracellular energy. This review provides useful information for the design of new protocols aiming to reduce cell recurrence in PDT....

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2174/092986712799034932

Publication date: 2012-02-01

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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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