Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising treatment strategy where activation of photosensitizer drugs with specific wavelengths of light results in energy transfer cascades that ultimately yield cytotoxic reactive oxygen species which can render apoptotic and necrotic cell death. Without light the photosensitizer drugs are minimally toxic and the photoactivating light itself is non-ionizing. Therefore, harnessing this mechanism in tumors provides a safe and novel way to selectively eradicate tumor with reduced systemic toxicity and side effects on healthy tissues. For successful PDT of solid tumors, it is necessary to ensure tumor-selective delivery of the photosensitizers, as well as, the photoactivating light and to establish dosimetric correlation of light and drug parameters to PDT-induced tumor response. To this end, the nanomedicine approach provides a promising way towards enhanced control of photosensitizer biodistribution and tumor-selective delivery. In addition, refinement of nanoparticle designs can also allow incorporation of imaging agents, light delivery components and dosimetric components. This review aims at describing the current state-of-the-art regarding nanomedicine strategies in PDT, with a comprehensive narrative of the research that has been carried out in vitro and in vivo, with a discussion of the nanoformulation design aspects and a perspective on the promise and challenges of PDT regarding successful translation into clinical application.
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