Photopharmacology Offers Light-Controlled Drugs And Therapies

The emerging field of photopharmacology aims to use light as an external stimulus to activate drug molecules, and do so with a high degree of control over the time and place where this happens – a conceptually straightforward task, which in fact requires an interdisciplinary effort across both chemical synthesis and light delivery technology.

Unlike conventional antibiotics, which have a long-lasting presence in the body and the environment leading to antibiotic resistance, and chemotherapy agents, which can easily affect healthy cells as a side-effect of treatment, a molecule whose therapeutic action can be switched on and switched off again by the action of light could have some dramatic advantages.

Understanding the half-life of the isomerized form of the molecule and the rate at which it reverts to its original form, along with the quantum yield of the isomerization process, has become a key aspect of photopharmacology from a chemistry perspective, alongside the central challenge of synthesizing a molecule capable of adopting two forms of differing potency in the first place.

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