Honors Theses

Water Soluble Luminescent Dye as a Potential Photodynamic Therapy Agent


Shawn Swavey



Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Thesis


Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment modality that uses light, molecular oxygen, and a photosensitizer to treat a variety of illnesses. PDT offers a less invasive method for treating illness like cancer and bacterial infections. Excitation of the photosensitizer by light typically generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) which then go on to destroy biomolecules within diseased cells. Photosensitizers are molecules that have the ability to absorb visible or near-infrared light to give a relatively stable or long-lived excited state. Boron dipyrromethenes (BODIPY) are small molecules with great potential as photodynamic therapy. A new series of water soluble Bodipy’s have been synthesized and studied as potential photosensitizers. These molecules have strong absorption of visible light within the region 550 nm to 850 nm which is ideal for photodynamic therapy to give the greatest light penetration through tissue. These new Bodipy’s show the ability to photo-react with plasmid DNA in-vitro; however, the reactions are incomplete in the sense that there is still a great deal of unreacted plasmid DNA; determined by gel electrophoresis. This suggests that the excited state of these BODIPY’s do not offer the best route toward reaction with molecular oxygen and thus DNA. The new approach described here involves synthetic design of a next generation Bodipy with long wavelength absorption coupled to longer excited state lifetimes. Studies will be performed to prove this theory and lead to new Bodipy photodynamic therapy agents.

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Undergraduate research



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