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Microbiol Res. 2008;163(1):1-12. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Antifungal photodynamic therapy.

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School of Pharmacy, Queen's University Belfast, Medical Biology Centre, Belfast, UK.


In photodynamic antimicrobial chemotherapy (PACT), a combination of a sensitising drug and visible light causes selective destruction of microbial cells. The ability of light-drug combinations to kill microorganisms has been known for over 100 years. However, it is only recently with the beginning of the search for alternative treatments for antibiotic-resistant pathogens that the phenomenon has been investigated in detail. Numerous studies have shown PACT to be highly effective in the in vitro destruction of viruses and protozoa, as well as Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and fungi. Results of experimental investigations have demonstrated conclusively that both dermatomycetes and yeasts can be effectively killed by photodynamic action employing phenothiazinium, porphyrin and phthalocyanine photosensitisers. Importantly, considerable selectivity for fungi over human cells has been demonstrated, no reports of fungal resistance exist and the treatment is not associated with genotoxic or mutagenic effects to fungi or human cells. In spite of the success of cell culture investigations, only a very small number of in vivo animal and human trials have been published. The present paper reviews the studies published to date on antifungal applications of PACT and aims to raise awareness of this area of research, which has the potential to make a significant impact in future treatment of fungal infections.

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