Detergent-induced self-assembly and controllable photosensitizer activity of diester phenylene ethynylenes [Chemistry]
Photodynamic therapy, in which malignant tissue is killed by targeted light exposure following administration of a photosensitizer, can be a valuable treatment modality but currently relies on passive transport and local irradiation to avoid off-target oxidation. We present a system of excited-state control for truly local delivery of singlet oxygen. An anionic phenylene ethynylene oligomer is initially quenched by water, producing minimal fluorescence and no measurable singlet oxygen generation. When presented with a binding partner, in this case an oppositely charged surfactant, changes in solvent microenvironment result in fluorescence unquenching, restoration of intersystem crossing to the triplet state, and singlet oxygen generation, as assayed by transient absorption spectroscopy and chemical trapping. This solvation-controlled photosensitizer model has possible applications as a theranostic agent for, for example, amyloid diseases.
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