was first approved in the 1990s as a sensitizer for use in treating cancer via photodynamic therapy (PDT). Since then a wide variety of dye sensitizers have been developed and a few have been approved for PDT treatment of skin and organ cancers and skin diseases such as acne vulgaris
. Porphyrinoid derivatives and precursors have been the most successful in producing requisite singlet oxygen, with Photofrin®
still remaining the most efficient sensitizer (quantum yield = 0.89) and having broad food and drug administration (FDA) approval for treatment of multiple cancer types. Other porphyrinoid compounds that have received approval from US FDA and regulatory authorities in other countries include benzoporphyrin derivative monoacid ring A (BPD-MA), meta
-aspartyl chlorin e6 (NPe6), and precursors to endogenous protoporphyrin IX (PpIX): 1,5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), methyl aminolevulinate (MAL), hexaminolevulinate (HAL). Although no non-porphyrin sensitizer has been approved for PDT applications, a small number of anthraquinone, phenothiazine, xanthene, cyanine, and curcuminoid sensitizers are under consideration and some are being evaluated in clinical trials. This review focuses on the nature of PDT, dye sensitizers that have been approved for use in PDT, and compounds that have entered or completed clinical trials as PDT sensitizers.