Taming photosensitive chemicals to deliver drugs

Photosensitive chemicals are molecules that release single oxygen atoms and radicals when they're hit with light. The radicals are a rowdy bunch and can rip apart and destroy bacteria, according to Peter Rentzepis, a chemistry professor at the University of California, Irvine, and quoted in Drug Discovery & Development. They're toxic, difficult to activate deep in the skin, can cause headaches, nausea and other nasty symptoms. Plus, they kill healthy cells in addition to bacteria. So, why do researchers want to use these photosensitive chemicals as drug delivery devices? Well, the UC Irvine researchers believe they've solved the problem with an optical fiber-based device that can deliver tiny amounts of the chemicals to internal organs with pinpoint accuracy. That way, they can focus their destructive habits only on the bad cells. "We can insert the instrument through the nose, bowels, mouth, or almost any opening and direct it where we want," Rentzepis is quoted in DD&D. "It lets us deliver very small amounts of these chemicals right to an infection or tumor, then remove them before they damage healthy cells. Story