Biomolecular Concepts (Mar 2022)

Targeted photoimmunotherapy for cancer

  • Mussini Andrea,
  • Uriati Eleonora,
  • Bianchini Paolo,
  • Diaspro Alberto,
  • Cavanna Luigi,
  • Abbruzzetti Stefania,
  • Viappiani Cristiano

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 13, no. 1
pp. 126 – 147


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Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a clinically approved procedure that can exert a curative action against malignant cells. The treatment implies the administration of a photoactive molecular species that, upon absorption of visible or near infrared light, sensitizes the formation of reactive oxygen species. These species are cytotoxic and lead to tumor cell death, damage vasculature, and induce inflammation. Clinical investigations demonstrated that PDT is curative and does not compromise other treatment options. One of the major limitations of the original method was the low selectivity of the photoactive compounds for malignant over healthy tissues. The development of conjugates with antibodies has endowed photosensitizing molecules with targeting capability, so that the compounds are delivered with unprecedented precision to the site of action. Given their fluorescence emission capability, these supramolecular species are intrinsically theranostic agents.