Ruthenium Complexes for 1- and 2-Photon Photodynamic Therapy: From In Silico Prediction to In Vivo Applications

The use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) against cancer has received increasing attention overthe recent years. However, the application of the currently approved photosensitizers (PSs) is somehow limited by their poor aqueous solubility, aggregation, photobleaching and slow clearance from the body. To overcome these limitations, there is a need for the development of new classes of PSs with ruthenium(II) polypyridine complexes currently gaining momentum. However, these compounds generally lack significant absorption in the biological spectral window, limiting their application to treat deep-seated or large tumors. To overcome this drawback, ruthenium(II) polypyridine complexes designed in silico with (E,E’)-4,4´-bisstyryl 2,2´-bipyridine ligands showed impressive 1- and 2-Photon absorption up to a magnitude higher than the ones published so far. While non-toxic in the dark, these compounds were found phototoxic in various 2D monolayer cells, 3D multicellular tumor spheroids and be able to eradicate a multiresistant tumor inside a mouse model upon clinically relevant 1-Photon and 2 Photon excitation.