Semiconducting Polymer Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications
The convergence of medicine and nanotechnology has been providing new opportunities to better understand fundamental biology, monitor health, perform diagnosis and treat diseases. Semiconducting polymer nanoparticles (SPNs) transformed from optically and electrically active polymers have emerged as a new class of optical nanomaterials. As those polymers are completely organic and biologically inert, SPNs essentially circumvent the issue of heavy metal ion-induced toxicity to living organisms, possessing good biocompatibility. In this talk, I will present the biomedical applications of SPNs ranging from advanced molecular imaging, to cancer phototherapy, and to controlled photoactivation of biological processes. In preclinical settings, SPNs can be developed into smart probes for real-time in vivo evaluation of drug-induced hepatotoxicity, a long-standing concern of modern medicine; in clinical settings, they can be potentially used for afterglow imaging guided surgery including lymph node mapping and tumor imaging, providing the sensitivity level that is more than 100 times higher than traditional near-infrared fluorescence imaging. In addition, the photodynamic and photothermal properties of SPNs not only leads to photomedicines but also allow them to serve as signal transducers for regulation of biological processes in living animals.