New photodynamic therapy with next-generation photosensitizers
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a non-invasive antitumor treatment that uses the combination of a photosensitizer, tissue oxygen, and visible light irradiation to produce cytotoxic reactive oxygen species, predominantly singlet oxygen. Currently, first-generation PDT using porfimer sodium with an excimer dye laser, and second-generation PDT using talaporfin sodium PDT with a semiconductor laser are approved by health insurance for use in Japan. However, the cancer cell specificity and selectivity of these treatments are inadequate. Cancer cells consume higher levels of glucose than normal cells and this phenomenon is known as the Warburg effect. Thus, we developed a third-generation PDT, based on the Warburg effect, by synthesizing a novel photosensitizer, sugar-conjugated chlorin, with increased cancer cell-selective accumulation. Glucose-conjugated chlorin (G-chlorin) PDT showed significantly stronger antitumor effects than second-generation talaporfin PDT. We also found that PDT with G-chlorin induced immunogenic cell death which is characterized by the secretion, release, or surface exposure of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), including calreticulin (CRT) and the high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein. Mannose-conjugated chlorin (M-chlorin) PDT which targets the mannose receptors on the surface of cancer cells and tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in cancer tissue stroma also showed very strong antitumor effects. These novel PDTs using glucose or M-chlorins stand as new candidates for very effective, next-generation PDTs.