Recent Advances in Cyanine-Based Phototherapy Agents

Bilici K., Cetin S., Aydındogan E., Yagci Acar H., Kolemen S.

Frontiers in Chemistry, vol.9, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 9
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.3389/fchem.2021.707876
  • Journal Name: Frontiers in Chemistry
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: cancer, photothemal therapy, photodynamic therapy, cyanine, synergistic therapy
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: No


Phototherapies, in the form of photodynamic therapy (PDT) and photothermal therapy (PTT), are very promising treatment modalities for cancer since they provide locality and turn-on mechanism for toxicity, both of which are critical in reducing off-site toxicity. Irradiation of photosensitive agents demonstrated successful therapeutic outcomes; however, each approach has its limitations and needs to be improved for clinical success. The combination of PTT and PDT may work in a synergistic way to overcome the limitations of each method and indeed improve the treatment efficacy. The development of single photosensitive agents capable of inducing both PDT and PTT is, therefore, extremely advantageous and highly desired. Cyanine dyes are shown to have such potential, hence have been very popular in the recent years. Luminescence of cyanine dyes renders them as phototheranostic molecules, reporting the localization of the photosensitive agent prior to irradiation to induce phototoxicity, hence allowing image-guided phototherapy. In this review, we mainly focus on the cyanine dye–based phototherapy of different cancer cells, concentrating on the advancements achieved in the last ten years.