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J Photochem Photobiol B. 2009 Jul 17;96(1):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2009.04.001. Epub 2009 Apr 11.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT): a short review on cellular mechanisms and cancer research applications for PDT.

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Laser Research Group, University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein 2028, Johannesburg, South Africa.


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been used for many years, but it is only now becoming widely accepted and utilized. Originally it was developed as a tumor therapy and some of its most successful applications are for non-malignant diseases. This article provides a broad review of different parameters used and mechanisms instituted in PDT such as photosensitizers (PS), photochemistry and photophysics, cellular localization, cellular signaling, cell metabolism and modes of cell death that operate on a cellular level, as well as photosensitizer pharmacokinetics, biodistribution, tumor localization and modes of tumor destruction. These specific cellular mechanisms are most commonly applied in PDT and for the most part are often researched and exploited. If the combination of these specific parameters and mechanisms can be optimized within PDT it could possibly be used as a suitable alternative for the treatment and management of specific cancers.

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