Photodynamic therapy: One step ahead with self-assembled nanoparticles

Pinar Avci, S. Sibel Erdem, Michael R. Hamblin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising treatment modality for cancer with possible advantages over current treatment alternatives. It involves combination of light and a photosensitizer (PS), which is activated by absorption of specific wavelength light and creates local tissue damage through generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that induce a cascade of cellular and molecular events. However, as of today, PDT is still in need of improvement and nanotechnology may play a role. PDT frequently employs PS with molecular structures that are highly hydrophobic, water insoluble and prone to aggregation. Aggregation of PS leads to reduced ROS generation and thus lowers the PDT activity. Some PS such as 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) cannot penetrate through the stratum corneum of the skin and systemic administration is not an option due to frequently encountered side effects. Therefore PS are often encapsulated or conjugated in/on nano-drug delivery vehicles to allow them to be better taken up by cells and to more selectively deliver them to tumors or other target tissues. Several nano-drug delivery vehicles including liposomes, fullerosomes and nanocells have been tested and reviewed. Here we cover non-liposomal self-assembled nanoparticles consisting of polymeric micelles including block co-polymers, polymeric micelles, dendrimers and porphysomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1937-1952
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biomedical Nanotechnology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Block copolymers
  • Cancer
  • Dendrimers
  • Micelles
  • Nanoparticles
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Self assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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