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Novel dyes for biomedical applications

Improving in vivo imaging and hence disease diagnosis is an ongoing challenge for the biomedical field. European scientists have chosen to address this issue by developing novel dyes that show two-photon excitation properties.
Novel dyes for biomedical applications
Two-photon absorption is a newly emerging discipline that combines biology, chemistry, physics and engineering. Applications for this two-photon excitation technology extend from bioimaging to biomedical engineering and medicine.

The dyes used during two-photon absorption should fulfill certain parameters. They should be highly responsive to two-photon excitation, and their properties should be compatible with biological systems as well as with the appropriate instrumentation.

Based on this, the EU-funded 'Two photon absorbers for biomedical applications' (TOPBIO) project aims to design and evaluate new dyes that could be used for two-photon absorption. By combining an array of disciplines such as synthetic chemistry, cell biology and lasers, project partners are aiming to advance the field by providing novel tools.

To this end, they have established computational methods to examine and model the two-photon absorption response of various molecules. These methods have been designed to account for environmental factors given the sensitivity of two-photon absorption to environmental changes. Gaining fundamental understanding of the molecular criteria required for efficient two-photon absorption dyes is of outmost importance for their subsequent synthesis.

For this purpose, experimental setups have been established for characterising the two-photon absorption spectra for both fluorescent and non-fluorescent dyes. Particular emphasis has been given to the synthesis of a range of fluorescent dyes showing two-photon absorbance in the biological spectra window.

Apart from enhanced in vivo imaging and more sensitive diagnosis, the TOPBIO study has generated an intriguing outcome. It has discovered and is in the process of elucidating the mechanism of two-photon–induced cell death. The generated information could be exploited in the future for the synthesis of anticancer drugs for use in photodynamic therapy.

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