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Photodynamic therapy of tumors and other diseases using porphyrins

Photodynamic therapy of tumors and other diseases using porphyrins

Lasers in Medical Science 2(1): 4-15

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with porphyrins and red light (620-630 nm) is finding increasing clinical application for both the eradication of relatively small tumours and the palliation of inoperable or obstructive tumours. PDT also shows some promise for the sterilization of the tumour bed after surgical removal of neoplasmic masses. Several porphyrins have been found to be accumulated and retained by tumour tissues; however, a chemically prepared derivative of haematoporphyrin, termed HpD, and a purified form of HpD, termed DHE (dihaematoporphyrin ether or ester), are most frequently used in clinical practice owing to their optimal tumour-localizing properties and low systemic toxicity in the dark. The efficiency of HpD/DHE photoactivation by red light is very low, since their extinction coefficient at wavelengths above 600 nm is below 103 M-1 cm-1. Therefore, a large number of investigations are being performed in order to improve the efficacy of PDT. One approach involves the use of porphyrin analogs (e.g., chlorins, phthalocyanines) which retain a high affinity for tumours and possess intense absorption bands in the red spectral region. Moreover, the selectivity of tumour targeting can be enhanced by transport of the photosensitizing drug with some types of lipoproteins or monoclonal antibodies. These developments are of interest also in view of the proposed extension of PDT to the treatment of other diseases, including viral and microbial infections, atheroma and psoriasis.

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