Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.139, No.13, 4584-4610, 2017
Smart Nanostructures for Cargo Delivery: Uncaging and Activating by Light
Nanotechnology has begun to play a remarkable role in various fields of science and technology. In biomedical applications, nanoparticles have opened new horizons, especially for biosensing, targeted delivery of therapeutics, and so forth. Among drug delivery systems (DDSs), smart nanocarriers that respond to specific stimuli in their environment represent a growing field. Nanoplatforms that can be activated by an external application of light can be used for a wide variety of photoactivated therapies, especially light-triggered DDSs, relying on photoisomerization, photo-cross-linkin/un-cross-linking, photoreduction, and so forth. In addition, light activation has potential in photodynamic therapy, photothermal therapy, radiotherapy, protected delivery of bioactive moieties; anticancer drug delivery systems, and theranostics (i.e., real-time monitoring and tracking combined with a therapeutic action to different diseases sites and organs). Combinations of these approaches can lead to enhanced and synergistic therapies, employing light as a trigger or for activation. Nonlinear light absorption mechanisms such as two-photon absorption and photon upconversion have been employed in the design of light responsive DDSs. The integration of a light stimulus into dual/multiresponsive nanocarriers can provide spatiotemporal controlled delivery and release of therapeutic agents, targeted and controlled nanosystems, combined delivery of two or more agents, their on-demand release under specific conditions, and so forth. Overall, light-activated nanomedicines and DDSs are expected to provide more effective therapies against serious diseases such as cancers, inflammation, infections, and cardiovascular disease with reduced side effects and will open new doors toward the treatment of patients worldwide.