Visible light controlled release of anticancer drug through double activation of prodrug

Abugafar M.L. Hossion, Moses Bio, Gregory Nkepang, Samuel G. Awuah, Youngjae You

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


We designed and synthesized a novel double activatable prodrug system (drug-linker-deactivated photosensitizer), containing a photocleavable aminoacrylate-linker and a deactivated photosensitizer, to achieve the spatiotemporally controlled release of parent drugs using visible light. Three prodrugs of CA-4, SN-38, and coumarin were prepared to demonstrate the activation of deactivated photosensitizer by cellular esterase and the release of parent drugs by visible light (540 nm) via photounclick chemistry. Among these prodrugs, nontoxic coumarin prodrug was used to quantify the release of parent drug in live cells. About 99% coumarin was released from the coumarin prodrug after 24 h of incubation with MCF-7 cells followed by irradiation with low intensity visible light (8 mW/cm2) for 30 min. Less toxic prodrugs of CA-4 and SN-38 killed cancer cells as effectively as free drugs after the double activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-127
Number of pages4
JournalACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2013


  • Prodrug
  • aminoacrylate
  • anticancer drug
  • photosensitizer
  • photounclick
  • visible/near IR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry


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