Photosensitizers for Photodynamic and Photothermal Therapy with Improved Performance in Low Oxygen Tumor Environment (RFT-577)

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Invention Summary

Scientists at NDSU have developed Iridium(III)-based complexes that accumulate in tumors, and have potential as photosensitizers for photodynamic and photothermal treatment of cancer. These complexes have either distyryl-BODIPY (boron-dipyrromethene) or thiophene-fused BODIPY-substituted N-heterocyclic carbene. In either case, these absorb strongly in the red to near infrared (NIR), i.e. wavelengths that penetrate deeper into tissues than wavelengths that are optimal with currently available porphyrin-based photosensitizers. When triggered by exposure to the desired wavelength, these iridium(III) complexes have been shown to possess long-lived triplet excited state, and have high triplet quantum yield (i.e. produce high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage tumor cells), even in the low oxygen environment commonly found in tumors.


  • IR wavelengths penetrate more deeply into tissues, so have potential for treating larger tumors and those that are further from the surface
  • Higher levels of ROS, resulting from 3- to 4-fold higher molecular extinction coefficient as compared with porphyrin derivatives.
  • More efficient conversion of trace oxygen from ground state to reactive state due to longer life of the iridium(III) complex excited state


This technology is patent pending with fully preserved patent rights and is available for licensing/partnering opportunities.


Henry Nowak, Technology Manager


RFT, 577, RFT577 

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