, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 460-473,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 29 Nov 2011

New Frontier in Hypericin-Mediated Diagnosis of Cancer with Current Optical Technologies

Abstract

Photosensitizers (PSs) have shown great potentials as molecular contrast agents in photodynamic diagnosis (PDD) of cancer. While the diagnostic values of PSs have been proven previously, little efforts have been put into developing optical imaging and diagnostic algorithms. In this article, we review the recent development of optical probes that have been used in conjunction with a potent PS, hypericin (HY). Various fluorescence techniques such as laser confocal microscopy, fluorescence urine cytology, endoscopy and endomicroscopy are covered. We will also discuss about image processing and classification approaches employed for accurate PDD. We anticipate that continual efforts in these developments could lead to an objective PDD and complete surgical clearance of tumors. Recent advancements in nanotechnology have also opened new horizons for PSs. The use of biocompatible gold nanoparticles as carrier for enhanced targeted delivery of HY has been attained. In addition, plasmonic properties of nanoparticles were harnessed to induce localized hyperthermia and to manage the release of PS molecules, enabling a better therapeutic outcome of a combined photodynamic and photothermal therapy. Finally, we discuss how nanoparticles can be used as contrast agents for other optical techniques such as optical coherence tomography and surface-enhanced Raman scattering imaging.

Associate Editor Daniel Elson oversaw the review of this article.