Innovative approaches for cancer treatment: graphene quantum dots for photodynamic and photothermal therapies

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Royal Soc Chemistry

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Graphene quantum dots (GQDs) hold great promise for photodynamic and photothermal cancer therapies. Their unique properties, such as exceptional photoluminescence, photothermal conversion efficiency, and surface functionalization capabilities, make them attractive candidates for targeted cancer treatment. GQDs have a high photothermal conversion efficiency, meaning they can efficiently convert light energy into heat, leading to localized hyperthermia in tumors. By targeting the tumor site with laser irradiation, GQD-based nanosystems can induce selective cancer cell destruction while sparing healthy tissues. In photodynamic therapy, light-sensitive compounds known as photosensitizers are activated by light of specific wavelengths, generating reactive oxygen species that induce cancer cell death. GQD-based nanosystems can act as excellent photosensitizers due to their ability to absorb light across a broad spectrum; their nanoscale size allows for deeper tissue penetration, enhancing the therapeutic effect. The combination of photothermal and photodynamic therapies using GQDs holds immense potential in cancer treatment. By integrating GQDs into this combination therapy approach, researchers aim to achieve enhanced therapeutic efficacy through synergistic effects. However, biodistribution and biodegradation of GQDs within the body present a significant hurdle to overcome, as ensuring their effective delivery to the tumor site and stability during treatment is crucial for therapeutic efficacy. In addition, achieving precise targeting specificity of GQDs to cancer cells is a challenging task that requires further exploration. Moreover, improving the photothermal conversion efficiency of GQDs, controlling reactive oxygen species generation for photodynamic therapy, and evaluating their long-term biocompatibility are all areas that demand attention. Scalability and cost-effectiveness of GQD synthesis methods, as well as obtaining regulatory approval for clinical applications, are also hurdles that need to be addressed. Further exploration of GQDs in photothermal and photodynamic cancer therapies holds promise for advancements in targeted drug delivery, personalized medicine approaches, and the development of innovative combination therapies. The purpose of this review is to critically examine the current trends and advancements in the application of GQDs in photothermal and photodynamic cancer therapies, highlighting their potential benefits, advantages, and future perspectives as well as addressing the crucial challenges that need to be overcome for their practical application in targeted cancer therapy. Recent advancements pertaining to the application of GQD-based nanosystems in photothermal and photodynamic cancer therapies are discussed, highlighting crucial challenges, advantages, and future perspectives.


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Journal of Materials Chemistry B

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