Experimental Project: Nanoparticle-mediated photoactivation of anticancer prodrugs

Photoactivatable transition metal complexes are studied intensively for application in chemotherapy. The interest in this class of derivatives is motivated by their rich photochemistry, which can be tailored to promote novel anticancer mechanisms of action. Nevertheless, the poor absorption properties of metal complexes in the therapeutic windows of the visible spectrum (λ > 600 nm) pose a key limitation for further advancing their use towards the clinics.

Nanoparticles (NPs) and their outstanding optical properties offer a superior and effective strategy to achieve efficient photoactivation of metal complexes and overcome their intrinsic flaws. NPs can be exploited to access unconventional excited-state chemistry in metal complexes and design innovative hybrid materials for therapy.

This project aims at exploring the use of upconverting nanoparticles as phototriggers for the near infrared activation of metal-based anticancer prodrugs. The student will employ surface chemistry methodologies to achieve efficient loading of metal complexes onto nanoparticles and will investigate the photochemistry of the systems prepared using spectroscopy techniques. Furthermore, he/she will also have the opportunity to perform computational analyses to obtain key insights in the excited states dynamics of the prodrugs.

Supervisors: Luca Salassa.

Status: Open.