Affiliation: Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, P. O. Box 24923 Safat, 13110 Kuwait.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are considered to be a main cause for cancer development, but they can also be used for cancer eradication. Because of this dual nature of ROS action, both antioxidant and prooxidant therapeutic agents have been developed and some have shown clinical promise. Selective uptake of porphyrins by malignant cells has for a long time been used for tumor imaging and for targeted delivery of ROS. Redox-active Mn porphyrins can act both as antioxidants and as prooxidants, and may thus be used in anticancer therapy. Porphyrins, which chelate redox inactive metals, for example Zn, demonstrate photo-sensitizing activity and thus can produce singlet oxygen and other reactive oxygen species in cancer cells on irradiation with visible light. Here we review the properties of Zn(II) N-alkylpyridylporphyrin-based photosensitizers, and their ability to damage selected cellular targets.