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Special Issue "Nanomaterials for Phototherapeutic Applications"

A special issue of Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049). This special issue belongs to the section "Photochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Scott Reed

Department of Chemistry, University of Colorado Denver, Campus Box 194, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, Colorado 80217, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: nanoparticle-lipid conjugates as membrane mimics; nanomaterials for phototherapeutic applications; biosensors; aptamers; green synthesis
Guest Editor
Prof. Jung-Jae Lee

Department of Chemistry, University of Colorado Denver, Campus Box 194, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, Colorado 80217, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: theranostic nanomedicine; stimuli responsive drug delivery systems; biomaterials; in vivo optical imaging; molecular recognition; polymeric particles

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nanomaterials can enhance the delivery and performance of phototherapeutic agents. Furthermore, the unique properties of nanomaterials mean that they can act as phototherapeutics or adjuvants to phototherapy. Recent advances in the areas of phototherapy using nanomaterials have laid the groundwork for vibrant new interdisciplinary research. We look forward to receiving contributions in these research areas that push the boundaries of this exciting new field.

Prof. Scott Reed
Prof. Jung-Jae Lee
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Molecules is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Theranostic nanomedicine (diagnostics and therapy)
  • Targeted phototherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Photothermal therapy (Photothermolysis)
  • Nanoparticle-photosensitizer interactions
  • Nanoparticle delivery of phototherapeutics
  • Light-sensitive drug delivery systems

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of the paper: Review
Title: Utilization of Targeted Nanoparticle Photosensitizer Drug Delivery Systems for the Enhancement of Photodynamic Therapy
Authors: Cherie Ann Kruger PhD 1 and Heidi Abrahamse PhD 2,*
1. Research Associate Laser Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa; cherier@uj.ac.za
2. Laser Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box: 17011, Johannesburg 2028, South Africa
*Correspondence: habrahamse@uj.ac.za; Tel.: +27-11-559-6550; Fax: +27-11-559-6884
Abstract: The cancer incidence world-wide has caused an increase in the demand for effective forms of treatment. One unconventional form of treatment for cancer is photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT has 3 fundamental factors, namely a photosensitizer (PS) drug, light and oxygen. When a PS drug is administered to a patient, it can either passively or actively accumulate within a tumour site and once exposed to a specific wavelength of light, it is excited to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in tumour destruction. However, the efficacy of ROS generation for tumour damage is highly dependent on the uptake of the PS in tumour cells. Thus PS selective / targeted uptake and delivery in tumour cells is a crucial factor in PDT cancer drug absorption studies. Generally, within non-targeted drug delivery mechanisms, only minor amounts of PS are able to passively accumulates in tumour sites (due to the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect) and the remainder distributes into healthy tissues, causing unwanted side effects and poor treatment prognosis. Thus to improve the efficacy of PDT cancer treatment, research is currently focused on the development of specific receptor based photosynthetic nanocarrier platform drugs, which promotes the active uptake and absorption of PS drugs in tumour sites only, avoiding unwanted side effects, as well as treatment enhancement. Therefore, the aim of this review paper is to focus on current actively targeted PS nanoparticle drug delivery systems, that have been previously investigated for the PDT treatment of cancer and so to deduce their overall efficacy and recent advancements.
Keywords: photodynamic therapy; cancer; nanotechnology; drug delivery systems

Title: Revisiting Current Photoactive Materials for Antimicrobial Photodynamic Therapy
Authors: Mariana Q. Mesquita 1,2, Cristina J. Dias 1, Maria G.P.M.S. Neves 1, Adelaide Almeida 3, M. Amparo F. Faustino 1
Affiliation: 1 Department of Chemistry and QOPNA, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
2 Department of Biomedical Sciences and iBiMED, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
3 Departament of Biology CESAM, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
Abstract: Microbial infection is considered a severe human health concern, requiring the use of significant amounts of antimicrobials/biocides not only in hospital setting but also in other environments. However, the release of antimicrobials/biocides into the environment may induce new hazards to human health and environmental problems. The increasing use of these drugs and the rapid adaptability of microorganisms to these antimicrobial agents, has contributed to a sharp increase of antimicrobial resistance. Therefore, it is of general consensus that the development of new strategies to combat planktonic as well as biofilm-embedded microorganisms is required. Antimicrobial photodynamic therapy (aPDT), also referred as photodynamic inactivation of microorganisms (PDI), is a recently strategy that is being recognized as an effective method to inactivate a broad spectrum of pathogens, including microorganisms that are highly resistant to conventional antimicrobials and those that form biofilms. In the last years, the development and biological assessment of new molecules for PDI has grown considerably. Herein, we introduce several combinations of supports and PSs that have been shown to be effective in photoinactivating microorganisms. We mainly focus our attention in recent, innovative photoactive materials, molecular designs, and modifications that have been employed for targeted and effective control of microorganisms.

Type: Review
Title: Applications of Micro/Nanobubbles to Reverse Hypoxia: A potential approach to enhance Photodynamic Therapy & Photoacoustic Imaging
Authors: Muhammad Saad Khan, Jangsun Hwang and Jonghoon Choi*
Affiliation: School of Integrative Engineering, Chung-Ang University, Seoul Korea 06974; *Email: Abstract: Micro and nanobubbles can be prepared using variety of shells like phospholipids, polymers, proteins and surfactants. They are inherently echogenic and can be used as contrast agents for ultrasonic and photoacoustic imaging. These bubbles can be engineered in variety of sizes as vehicles for gas and drug delivery applications with novel properties and flexible structures. Hypoxic areas in tumors develop due to the imbalance of oxygen supply and demand. In tumors, hypoxic regions have demonstrated to be more resistant to chemo, radio and photodynamic therapies. Especially the efficacy of photodynamic therapy is dependent on the availability of oxygen in tumor to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). Micro/nanobubbles have been demonstrated to reverse hypoxic conditions and increase tissue oxygen level. This review will summarize synthesis methods and the shell composition of micro/nanobubbles, and methods deployed for oxygen delivery. In addition, the shortcomings and prospects of engineering micro/nanobubbles would be discussed especially for their potential usage in photodynamic therapy.
Keywords: Microbubbles; Nanobubbles; Photoacoustic imaging; Ultrasonic imaging; ROS; Oxygen delivery

Title: Photosensitive Polymeric Drug Nanocarrier in Biomedical Application
Author: Er-Yuan Chiang
Affiliation: Taipei Medical university, Taipei, Taiwan

Type: Review
Title: Tumor photothermal therapy employing the nanocomposites composed of photothermal inorganic nanoparticles and photothermal polymers
Author: Hao Zhang
Abstract: The past decade has witnessed the booming increase of the new methods for tumor treatment, which are considered to overcome the current limitation of low treating efficacy, tumor recurrence and severe side effects. Among a variety of novel therapeutic methods, photothermal therapy, employing nanometer-sized agents as the heat generators under near-infrared (NIR) light irradiation to ablate tumors, opens a new door for noninvasive tumor treatments with minimal side effects. Although many nanomaterials possess photothermal effects, inorganic nanoparticles and polymers are most competitive alternatives with the consideration of high photothermal performance and good biocompatibility. In this review, we summarized the tumor photothermal therapy using the nanocomposites composed of photothermal inorganic nanoparticles and photothermal polymers. Light extinction capability and photothermal transduction efficiency were adopted to evaluate the photothermal performance of nanocomposites. Because polymer coating was capable to improve tumor uptake rate, blood circulation duration, biodistribution, biosecurity and the tumor treating efficacy, the nanocomposites should be designed with inorganic core and polymer shell. Such structure could fulfill the requirement of high photothermal performance and good biocompatibility, making it possible to achieve complete ablation for shallow and small tumors under the safe limitation of NIR laser power density.
Keywords: nanocomposites; photothermal therapy; inorganic nanoparticles; photothermal polymers; hyperthermia

Type: Review
Title: Improving phototherapeutic efficiency of nanomaterials by targeting mitochondria
Authors: Fengming Lin, Fu-Gen Wu
Affiliation: State Key Laboratory of Bioelectronics, School of Biological Science and Medical Engineering, Southeast University, Nanjing 210096, China
Abstract: As tumor and cellular targeting of nanomaterials has been extensively explored to enhance their efficacy, targeting subcellular structures (or organelles) like mitochondria and nucleus are increasingly receiving great attention as novel and powerful strategies to improve the phototherapeutic efficiency of the nanomaterials towards cancer. Particularly, mitochondria are of great interest, for they play an essential role in cellular apoptosis, and are relevant to chemoresistance and tumor progression found in cancer stem cells. Furthermore, mitochondria are a major player in many cellular processes and are highly sensitive to heat, hyperthermia and reactive oxygen species, serving as excellent spots for phototherapy. In this review, we will focus on the recent advancements of mitochondria-targeting nanomaterials in both photodynamic therapy and photothermal therapy. The combination of mitochondria-targeting phototherapy with other anticancer strategies will be summarized. Also, we will discuss both the challenges currently faced by mitochondria-based cancer phototherapy and the promises it holds.
Keywords: Nanomedicine, Cancer therapy, PDT, PTT, Subcellular organelle-targeting

Title: Antimicrobial Photodynamic Therapy mediated by curcumin-loaded polymeric nanoparticles in a murine model of oral candidiasis
Author: Ewerton Garcia de Oliveira Mima
Affiliation: Araraquara Dental School, UNESP - Univ Estadual Paulista, Araraquara, São Paulo, Brazil
Abstract: Antimicrobial Photodynamic Therapy (aPDT) has been proposed as an alternative method for oral candidiasis (OC), and nanocarriers have been used to improve the water solubility of curcumin (CUR). The aim of this study was to encapsulate CUR in polymeric nanoparticles (NP) and to evaluate its photodynamic effects on a murine model of OC. Anionic and cationic CUR-NP was synthesized using poly-lactic acid, and dextran sulfate, and characterized. Female mice were immunosuppressed and inoculated with Candida albicans (Ca) to induce OC. aPDT was performed by applying CUR-NP or free CUR on the dorsum of tongue followed by irradiation at 37.5 J/cm2 (455 nm) for 5 consecutive days. Nystatin was used as positive control. Afterwards, Ca were recovered and cultivated. Animals were euthanatized for histological, immunohistochemical, and TUNEL evaluation. Encapsulation in NP improved the water solubility of CUR. Nystatin showed the highest reduction of Ca, followed by aPDT mediated by free CUR, which resulted in immunolabelling of cytokeratins 13 and 14 closer to those observed for healthy animals. Anionic CUR-NP did not show antifungal effect, and cationic CUR-NP reduced Ca even in the absence of light. DNA damage was associated with Ca infection. Consecutive aPDT application was a safe treatment for OC.

Title: Encapsidation of different plasmonic gold nanoparticles by the CCMV capsid protein
Authors: A. L. Durán-Meza, M. V. Villagrana-Escareño, X. F. Segovia-González, M. I. Escamilla-Ruiz, J. Roger Vega-Acosta, J. Ruiz-Garcia.
Affiliation: Biological Physics Laboratory, Institute of Physics, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, Álvaro Obregón 64, San Luis Potosí, S. L. P., 78000 México.
Abstract: Different types of gold nanoparticles have been synthesized and have shown great potential in medical applications such as medical imaging, bio-analytical sensing and photothermal therapy. However, their stability, polydispersity and biocompatibility are major issues of concern. In this work, we report the self-assembly of the capsid protein of cowpea chlorotic mottle virus around spherical gold nanoparticles, gold nanorods and gold nanoshells to form virus-like particles. However, some gold nanoparticles have some drawbacks. For example, the synthesis of gold nanorods, obtained through the elongated micelle process, produce them with a high positive surface charge that is cytotoxic. While gold nanoshells tend to be unstable and within a few weeks they decompose due to Ostwald ripening. All gold nanoparticles were synthesized or treated to give them a negative surface charge, so they can interact with the positive N-terminus of the capsid protein leading to the formation of virus-like particles. To induce the protein self-assembly around the negative gold nanoparticles, we use different pH and ionic strength conditions that were determined from the capsid protein phase diagram. The encapsidation with the viral capsid protein confers them better biocompatibility, stability, monodispersity and a new biological substrate, on which one can introduce specific ligands towards particular cells, broadening the possibilities of medical applications.

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