Photopharmacology Offers Light-Controlled, Safer, More Efficient Treatments

Though conceptually simple, the goal of the developing field of photopharmacology is to use light as an external stimulus to activate drug molecules with a high degree of control over the time and location where this occurs. This task necessitates an interdisciplinary effort involving chemical synthesis and light delivery technology.

A molecule whose therapeutic action can be switched on and off again by the action of light could have some significant advantages over chemotherapy agents and conventional antibiotics, both of which have long-lasting effects on the body and environment that contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Drugs are extremely potent bioactive substances that are typically active all the time and only need to be active where the illness is present in the body. The strategy is to build molecular photoswitches into the structures of bioactive molecules to create medications that can switch between two distinct potency states when exposed to light.

In addition to the primary difficulty of creating a molecule capable of adopting two forms of different potency, understanding the half-life of the isomerized form of the molecule and the rate at which it reverts to its original form, as well as the quantum yield of the isomerization process, has emerged as a key aspect of photopharmacology from a chemistry perspective.

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