Published: January 30, 2018
In vivo wireless photonic photodynamic therapy (PNAS, Jan 2018)
BIGHEART Principal Investigator Assistant Professor John Ho teamed up with Professor Zhang Yong to create a wireless light switch for targeted cancer therapy.
In vivo wireless photonic photodynamic therapy
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An emerging class of targeted therapy relies on light as a spatially and temporally precise stimulus. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a clinical example in which optical illumination selectively activates light-sensitive drugs, termed photosensitizers, destroying malignant cells without the side effects associated with systemic treatments such as chemotherapy. Effective clinical application of PDT and other light-based therapies, however, is hindered by challenges in light delivery across biological tissue, which is optically opaque. To target deep regions, current clinical PDT uses optical fibers, but their incompatibility with chronic implantation allows only a single dose of light to be delivered per surgery. Here we report a wireless photonic approach to PDT using a miniaturized (30 mg, 15 mm3) implantable device and wireless powering system for light delivery. We demonstrate the therapeutic efficacy of this approach by activating photosensitizers (chlorin e6) through thick (>3 cm) tissues inaccessible by direct illumination, and by delivering multiple controlled doses of light to suppress tumor growth in vivo in animal cancer models. This versatility in light delivery overcomes key clinical limitations in PDT, and may afford further opportunities for light-based therapies.