Aspects of Antiviral Strategies Based on Different Phototherapy Approaches: Hit by the Light

Hannah Kunstek, Fanny Vreken, Aminata Keita, Michael R. Hamblin, Florence Dumarçay, Mihayl Varbanov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which caused the COVID-19 pandemic spreading around the world from late 2019, served as a ruthless reminder of the threat viruses pose to global public health. The synthesis of new antiviral drugs, as well as repurposing existing products, is a long-term ongoing process which has challenged the scientific community. One solution could be an effective, accessible, and rapidly available antiviral treatment based on phototherapy (PT). PT has been used to treat several diseases, and relies on the absorption of light by endogenous molecules or exogenous photosensitizers (PS). PT has often been used in cancer treatment and prophylaxis, and as a complement to established chemotherapy and immunotherapy in combined therapeutic strategy. Besides significant applications in anticancer treatment, studies have demonstrated the beneficial impact of PT on respiratory, systemic, emerging, and oncogenic viral infections. The aim of this review was to highlight the potential of PT to combat viral infections by summarizing current progress in photodynamic, photothermal, and photoacoustic approaches. Attention is drawn to the virucidal effect of PT on systemic viruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus and human herpes viruses, including the causative agent of Kaposi sarcoma, human herpes virus (HHV8). PT has good potential for disinfection in anti-norovirus research and against pandemic viruses like SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number858
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • PDT
  • antiviral
  • photoacoustic
  • phototherapy
  • photothermal
  • virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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