Thionated organic compounds as emerging heavy-atom-free photodynamic therapy agents
This minireview focuses on recent progress in developing heavy-atom-free photosensitizers based on the thionation of nucleic acid derivatives and other biocompatible organic compounds for prospective applications in photodynamic therapy. Particular attention is given to the use of thionated nucleobase derivatives as “one-two punch” photodynamic agents. These versatile photosensitizers can act as “Trojan horses” upon metabolization into DNA and exposure to activating light. Their incorporation into cellular DNA increases their selectivity and photodynamic efficacy against highly proliferating skin cancer tumor cells, while simultaneously enabling the use of low irradiation doses both in the presence and in the absence of molecular oxygen. Also reviewed are their primary photochemical reactions, modes of action, and photosensitization mechanisms. New developments of emerging thionated organic photosensitizers absorbing visible and near-infrared radiation are highlighted. Future research directions, as well as, other prospective applications of heavy-atom-free, thionated photosensitizers are discussed.