Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

, Volume 134, Issue 8, pp 841–849 | Cite as

Enhancement of methyl-aminolevulinate photodynamic therapy by iron chelation with CP94: an in vitro investigation and clinical dose-escalating safety study for the treatment of nodular basal cell carcinoma

  • Andrew Pye
  • Sandra Campbell
  • Alison Curnow
Original Paper



Methyl-aminolevulinate (MAL) photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a cancer therapy that combines the selective accumulation of a photosensitizer in tumor tissue with visible light (and tissue oxygen) to produce reactive oxygen species. This results in cellular damage and ablation of tumor tissue. Combining iron chelators with MAL has the potential to increase the accumulation of the photosensitizer protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) by reducing its bioconversion to heme. This paper investigates this method of enhancement both in vitro and for the first time clinically for the treatment of nodular basal cell carcinoma (BCC).


Enhancement of MAL-induced PpIX accumulation by the iron chelator CP94 was quantified fluorometrically in human cultured cells (including three dermatological cell types). An open, dose-escalating, pilot study was then conducted in patients with nodular BCC, to determine the safety of this pharmacological modification.


Large enhancements in PpIX accumulation were observed in the cultured cells when co-incubated with the iron chelator CP94. Clinically the addition of CP94 was found to be feasible and safe. In addition greater reductions in tumor depth were observed in the CP94 co-incubated tumors.


Iron chelation by CP94 is an effective enhancer of MAL-induced PpIX accumulation in vitro. This method of enhancement was safely applied to a clinical PDT protocol with no unexpected adverse effects reported. Although the clinical investigation was only intended to be a small pilot to assess safety, enhancements in tumor clearance were observed both clinically and histologically when CP94 was included in the photosensitizing cream.


Carcinoma Basal cell 1,2-Diethyl-3-hydroxypyridin-4-one (CP94) Iron chelating agents Metvix® Methyl-aminolevulinate (MAL) Photochemotherapy 



This work was supported by the Duchy Health Charity Limited. The authors thank Professor Hider (Kings College London) for kindly providing the CP94 used in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornwall Dermatology Research, Peninsula Medical School, Knowledge SpaRoyal Cornwall HospitalTruroUK

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