A new study has delved into the emerging practice of drug delivery systems that use light to activate medications in the body.
The new process makes use of biocompatible materials that are sensitive to certain physiological variables or external physicochemical stimuli.
It is possible to control the delivery by using the changes in external or internal body conditions.
Already, there exist drug delivery systems that can respond to small changes in light, temperature, pH or the concentration of specific substances.
Current research on the drug delivery systems is focused on developing systems capable of delivering the adequate dose of drug at the target site, avoiding collateral effects and enhancing the therapeutic efficiency.
When it comes to cure cancer, light-sensitive systems are particularly useful for direct treatment of malignant cells and minimizing damage to healthy cells.
External control of drug delivery offers a number of advantages-it enables an easy and precise control of the medication.
Switching the light on and off also triggers or stops the release of medication, which can often be done by the patient.
"Near-infrared (NIR) light is particularly useful as an agent capable of triggering the drug release," said Carmen Alvarez-Lorenzo, co-author of the study.
He added: "NIR is innocuous, does not cause significant heating in the area of its application and can be useful in the difficult to access areas of the body."
The study has been published in a special issue of Photochemistry and Photobiology.