Universiteit Leiden

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Upconverting nanovesicles for the activation of ruthenium anti-cancer prodrugs with red light

Promotor: E. Bouwman, Co-promotor: S. Bonnet

S.H.C. Askes
24 november 2016
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Ruthenium complexes are promising prodrugs in photoactivated chemotherapy (PACT): to prevent systemic therapeutic side-effects, a non-toxic version of the drug is introduced in the body and is only activated at the place of the tumor by means of visible light irradiation. However, most of these PACT compounds are only sensitive for UV or blue light, while this light does not permeate the body very well, in contrast to red or near-infrared light. To circumvent this problem, the principle of light-upconversion can be used to "upgrade" red light to blue light in a drug carrier such as a nanovesicle: the tumor is irradiated with red light, after which blue light is generated locally and used to activate the prodrug. Among the various methods of light-upconversion, triplet-triplet annihilation upconversion (TTA-UC) was selected as the most promising. In this thesis it is described that green-to-blue and red-to-blue upconverting nanovesicles were prepared. The red-to-blue upconverted light was successfully used to activate a ruthenium polypyridyl complex that was anchored to the same vesicle. Finally, the inherent oxygen-sensitivity of TTA-UC was greatly mitigated by the addition of water-soluble and biocompatible anti-oxidants. We expect that the results of this thesis will lead to exciting applications in PACT.