Activity-Based Nitric Oxide-Responsive Porphyrin for Site-Selective and Nascent Cancer Ablation

Suritra Bandyopadhyay, Zhenxiang Zhao, Amanda K. East, Rodrigo Tapia Hernandez, Joseph A. Forzano, Benjamin A. Shapiro, Anuj K. Yadav, Chelsea B. Swartchick, Jefferson Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nitric oxide (NO) generated within the tumor microenvironment is an established driver of cancer progression and metastasis. Recent efforts have focused on leveraging this feature to target cancer through the development of diagnostic imaging agents and activatable chemotherapeutics. In this context, porphyrins represent an extraordinarily promising class of molecules, owing to their demonstrated use within both modalities. However, the remodeling of a standard porphyrin to afford a responsive chemical that can distinguish elevated NO from physiological levels has remained a significant research challenge. In this study, we employed a photoinduced electron transfer strategy to develop a panel of NO-activatable porphyrin photosensitizers (NOxPorfins) augmented with real-time fluorescence monitoring capabilities. The lead compound, NOxPorfin-1, features an o-phenylenediamine trigger that can effectively capture NO (via N2O3) to yield a triazole product that exhibits a 7.5-fold enhancement and a 70-fold turn-on response in the singlet oxygen quantum yield and fluorescence signal, respectively. Beyond demonstrating excellent in vitro responsiveness and selectivity toward NO, we showcase the potent photodynamic therapy (PDT) effect of NOxPorfin-1 in murine breast cancer and human non-small cellular lung cancer cells. Further, to highlight the in vivo efficacy, two key studies were executed. First, we utilized NOxPorfin-1 to ablate murine breast tumors in a site-selective manner without causing substantial collateral damage to healthy tissue. Second, we established a nascent human lung cancer model to demonstrate the unprecedented ability of NOxPorfin-1 to halt tumor growth and progression completely. The results of the latter study have tremendous implications for applying PDT to target metastatic lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9680-9689
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 28 2024


  • activity-based sensing
  • cancer
  • imaging
  • nitric oxide
  • photodynamic therapy
  • photosensitizer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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