Light based anti-infectives: Ultraviolet C irradiation, photodynamic therapy, blue light, and beyond

Rui Yin, Tianhong Dai, Pinar Avci, Ana Elisa Serafim Jorge, Wanessa C.M.A. De Melo, Daniela Vecchio, Ying Ying Huang, Asheesh Gupta, Michael R. Hamblin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

215 Citations (Scopus)


Owing to the worldwide increase in antibiotic resistance, researchers are investigating alternative anti-infective strategies to which it is supposed microorganisms will be unable to develop resistance. Prominent among these strategies, is a group of approaches which rely on light to deliver the killing blow. As is well known, ultraviolet light, particularly UVC (200-280 nm), is germicidal, but it has not been much developed as an anti-infective approach until recently, when it was realized that the possible adverse effects to host tissue were relatively minor compared to its high activity in killing pathogens. Photodynamic therapy is the combination of non-toxic photosensitizing dyes with harmless visible light that together produce abundant destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS). Certain cationic dyes or photosensitizers have good specificity for binding to microbial cells while sparing host mammalian cells and can be used for treating many localized infections, both superficial and even deep-seated by using fiber optic delivered light. Many microbial cells are highly sensitive to killing by blue light (400-470 nm) due to accumulation of naturally occurring photosensitizers such as porphyrins and flavins. Near infrared light has also been shown to have antimicrobial effects against certain species. Clinical applications of these technologies include skin, dental, wound, stomach, nasal, toenail and other infections which are amenable to effective light delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-762
Number of pages32
JournalCurrent Opinion in Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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