Photosensitizer-antibody conjugates for detection and therapy of cancer

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2004 Jan 13;56(1):31-52. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2003.09.003.


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising approach for the treatment of superficially localized tumors. A limitation, however, is the lack of selectivity of the photosensitizers, which can result in severe toxicity. In this overview, the possibilities for using monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) for selective delivery of photosensitizers to tumors, are discussed. This approach is called photoimmunotherapy (PIT). For PIT to be successful, sufficient amounts of sensitizer should be coupled to the MAb without altering its biological properties. A challenging aspect herein is the hydrophobicity of therapeutic photosensitizers. Options for direct and indirect coupling of photosensitizers to MAbs are evaluated, while pros and cons are indicated. Special attention is paid to the quality testing of photoimmunoconjugates, as this information is important for further optimization of PIT. Results obtained thus far with PIT in in vitro and in vivo model systems are discussed. Despite the encouraging progress made, showing the high selectivity of photoimmunoconjugates, PIT still awaits initial clinical evaluation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal* / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal* / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal* / therapeutic use
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates* / pharmacokinetics
  • Immunoconjugates* / therapeutic use
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms* / immunology
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Photosensitizing Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Photosensitizing Agents* / adverse effects
  • Photosensitizing Agents* / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunoconjugates
  • Photosensitizing Agents