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Mini Review | Open Access

Insights into the organic semiconducting photosensitizers for hypoxia-tolerant type I photodynamic therapy

Xiaoming Hu1,2,§Caijun Zhu2,§Fengwei Sun1Jin Yang3Zejing Chen2Haiyong Ao2Cao Cui4( )Zhen Yang1( )Wei Huang1,5( )
Strait Laboratory of Flexible Electronics (SLoFE), Strait Institute of Flexible Electronics (SIFE, Future Technologies), Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou 350117, China
Jiangxi Key Laboratory of Nanobiomaterials, School of Materials Science and Engineering, East China Jiaotong University, Nanchang 330013 China
Air Force Early Warning Academy, Wuhan 430019, China
Xiangyang Central Hospital, Affiliated Hospital of Hubei University of Arts and Science, Hubei 441021, China
Frontiers Science Center for Flexible Electronics (FSCFE), MIIT Key Laboratory of Flexible Electronics (KLoFE), Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an 710072, China

§ Xiaoming Hu and Caijun Zhu contributed equally to this work.

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Graphical Abstract

This review emphatically focuses on the detailed summary and insightful perspective of organic semiconducting photosensitizers for hypoxia-tolerant type I photodynamic therapy. By generalizing the several significant research advances, this review may provide a new sight into organic semiconducting photosensitizers for developing personalized theranostics, while opening the door to hypoxia-tolerant cancer theranostic techniques for advanced biological practices.


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a promising approach to treat cancer and microbial infections due to its minimal invasiveness, high spatiotemporal selectivity, tissue specificity, and low toxicity. Depending on the reactive oxygen species generation mechanisms, PDT can be classified as type I and type II. To date, most reported photosensitizers are based on the type II PDT mechanism, which produces toxic singlet oxygen and requires an abundant and continuous supply of oxygen molecules. Unfortunately, in typical solid tumor microenvironments, vascular abnormalities and rapid metabolisms lead to oxygen deficiency, severely compromising type II PDT's effectiveness. To address this issue, type I PDT with less oxygen consumption has been developed as an effective way to overcome the limitations of traditional type II PDT. In this contribution, we focus on the recent advances in type I organic semiconducting photosensitizers (OSPs), including organic semiconducting small molecules, conjugated polymers, and covalent organic frameworks for advanced hypoxia-tolerant PDT. The conceptual framework and general properties of these OSPs are firstly introduced, followed by introducing OSPs with different chemical structures for type I PDT. Finally, the overall conclusion, insightful perspective, and future direction of the efforts of OSPs for advanced biological applications are outlined.



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Nano TransMed
Article number: e9130010
Cite this article:
Hu X, Zhu C, Sun F, et al. Insights into the organic semiconducting photosensitizers for hypoxia-tolerant type I photodynamic therapy. Nano TransMed, 2022, 1(2–4): e9130010.







Received: 13 October 2022
Revised: 24 October 2022
Accepted: 25 October 2022
Published: 30 November 2022
© The Author(s) 2022. Nano TransMed published by Tsinghua University Press.

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