Melanoma resistance to photodynamic therapy: New insights

Michael R. Hamblin, Ying Ying Huang, Daniela Vecchio, Pinar Avci, Rui Yin, Maria Garcia-Diaz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, with a steeply rising incidence and a poor prognosis in its advanced stages. Melanoma is highly resistant to traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy, although modern targeted therapies such as BRAF inhibitors are showing some promise. Photodynamic therapy (PDT, the combination of photosensitizing dyes and visible light) has been tested in the treatment of melanoma with some promising results, but melanoma is generally considered to be resistant to it. Optical interference by the highlypigmented melanin, the antioxidant effect of melanin, the sequestration of photosensitizers inside melanosomes, defects in apoptotic pathways, and the efflux of photosensitizers by ATP-binding cassette transporters have all been implicated in melanoma resistance to PDT. Approaches to overcoming melanoma resistance to PDT include: the discovery of highly active photosensitizers absorbing in the 700-800-nm near infrared spectral region; interventions that can temporarily reduce the amount or pigmentation of the melanin; compounds that can reverse apoptotic defects or inhibit drug-efflux of photosensitizers; and immunotherapy approaches that can take advantage of the ability of PDT to activate the host immune system against the tumor being treated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-250
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Antitumor immune response
  • Depigmentation
  • Drug efflux systems
  • Melanoma
  • Melanosomes
  • Photo dynamic therapy
  • Photosensitizers
  • Resistance mechanisms.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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