Towards optimisation of surface enhanced photodynamic therapy of breast cancer cells using gold nanoparticle–photosensitiser conjugates†
Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs; ca. 4 nm) were synthesised and functionalised with a mixed monolayer of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and one of two zinc phthalocyanines (ZnPcs), the difference between the two molecules was the length of the carbon chain that connects the Pc to the gold core. The chain was composed of either three (C3Pc) or eleven (C11Pc) carbon atoms. The C11Pc photosensitiser displayed higher fluorescence emission intensity than the C3Pc in solution. By contrast, the C3Pc photosensitiser exhibited higher fluorescence when bound to the surface of the AuNPs than the C11Pc, despite the shorter carbon chain which was expected to quench the fluorescence. In addition, the C3Pc nanoparticle conjugates exhibited an enhancement in the production of singlet oxygen (1O2). The metal-enhanced 1O2 production led to a remarkable photodynamic efficacy for the treatment of human breast cancer cells.