Can nanotechnology potentiate photodynamic therapy ?

Ying Ying Huang, Sulbha K. Sharma, Tianhong Dai, Hoon Chung, Anastasia Yaroslavsky, Maria Garcia-Diaz, Julie Chang, Long Y. Chiang, Michael R. Hamblin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

131 Citations (Scopus)


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses the combination of nontoxic dyes and harmless visible light to produce reactive oxygen species that can kill cancer cells and infectious microorganisms. Due to the tendency of most photosensitizers (PS) to be poorly soluble and to form nonphotoactive aggregates, drug-delivery vehicles have become of high importance. The nanotechnology revolution has provided many examples of nanoscale drug-delivery platforms that have been applied to PDT. These include liposomes, lipoplexes, nanoemulsions, micelles, polymer nanoparticles (degradable and nondegradable), and silica nanoparticles. In some cases (fullerenes and quantum dots), the actual nanoparticle itself is the PS. Targeting ligands such as antibodies and peptides can be used to increase specificity. Gold and silver nanoparticles can provide plasmonic enhancement of PDT. Two-photon excitation or optical upconversion can be used instead of one-photon excitation to increase tissue penetration at longer wavelengths.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-146
Number of pages36
JournalNanotechnology Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Dendrimer
  • Fullerene
  • Graphene
  • Lipoplex
  • Lipoprotein
  • Liposome
  • Magnetic nanoparticle
  • Micelle
  • Nanocell
  • Nanoparticle
  • Polymeric nanoparticle
  • Porphysome
  • Quantum dot
  • Single-walled carbon nanotube
  • Two-photon excitation
  • Upconversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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