Cancer, photodynamic therapy and porphyrin-type derivatives

Ana T.P.C. Gomes*, Maria G.P.M.S. Neves, José A.S. Cavaleiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


This review has two parts. The first one gives an approach to interdisciplinary studies against cancer carried out by many scientists using porphyrin-type substrates as photosensitizers in PDT. Intensive studies were performed for almost six decades. The successes really started in 1993 with the first formulation patented under the trade name Photofrin, which was immediately approved in several countries to treat certain types of cancer. Photofrin is still used although certain negative features soon became well known. That has motivated the search for better new photosensitizers. Several ones were developed, evaluated and a few of them had clinical approval. This group includes porphyrin derivatives and pro-drugs (aminolevulinic acid and its alkyl esters). Oncological, dermatological and ophthalmic applications are now taking place for the benefit of mankind. The second part of this review is related with the work carried out in Aveiro at the authors University on the synthesis and biological evaluation of several potential PDT photosensitizers. Not only new synthetic methodologies mainly for porphyrins and chlorins were developed but also other related macrocycles of the phthalocyanine and corrole types have entered in the same “pipeline”. In vivo and in vitro biological evaluations also took place under interdisciplinary studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1026
Number of pages34
JournalAnais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Chlorins
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Porphyrins
  • Related macrocycles


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