Quantum dots and nanoparticles for photodynamic and radiation therapies of cancer

Petras Juzenas*, Wei Chen, Ya Ping Sun, Manuel Alvaro Neto Coelho, Roman Generalov, Natalia Generalova, Ingeborg Lie Christensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

546 Citations (Scopus)


Semiconductor quantum dots and nanoparticles composed of metals, lipids or polymers have emerged with promising applications for early detection and therapy of cancer. Quantum dots with unique optical properties are commonly composed of cadmium contained semiconductors. Cadmium is potentially hazardous, and toxicity of such quantum dots to living cells, and humans, is not yet systematically investigated. Therefore, search for less toxic materials with similar targeting and optical properties is of further interest. Whereas, the investigation of luminescence nanoparticles as light sources for cancer therapy is very interesting. Despite advances in neurosurgery and radiotherapy the prognosis for patients with malignant gliomas has changed little for the last decades. Cancer treatment requires high accuracy in delivering ionizing radiation to reduce toxicity to surrounding tissues. Recently some research has been focused in developing photosensitizing quantum dots for production of radicals upon absorption of visible light. In spite of the fact that visible light is safe, this approach is suitable to treat only superficial tumours. Ionizing radiation (X-rays and gamma rays) penetrate much deeper thus offering a big advantage in treating patients with tumours in internal organs. Such concept of using quantum dots and nanoparticles to yield electrons and radicals in photodynamic and radiation therapies as well their combination is reviewed in this article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1600-1614
Number of pages15
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Ionizing radiation
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Photosensitization
  • Radiation therapy
  • Radicals
  • Radioprotection
  • Radiosensitization
  • Singlet oxygen


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