Using light for therapy of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)

Alex Vasilev, Roba Sofi, Ruman Rahman, Stuart J. Smith, Anja G. Teschemacher, Sergey Kasparov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most malignant form of primary brain tumour with extremely poor prognosis. The current standard of care for newly diagnosed GBM includes maximal surgical resection followed by radiotherapy and adjuvant chemotherapy. The introduction of this protocol has improved overall survival, however recurrence is essentially inevitable. The key reason for that is that the surgical treatment fails to eradicate GBM cells completely, and adjacent parenchyma remains infiltrated by scattered GBM cells which become the source of recurrence. This stimulates interest to any supplementary methods which could help to destroy residual GBM cells and fight the infiltration. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) relies on photo-toxic effects induced by specific molecules (photosensitisers) upon absorption of photons from a light source. Such toxic effects are not specific to a particular molecular fingerprint of GBM, but rather depend on selective accumulation of the photosensitiser inside tumour cells or, perhaps their greater sensitivity to the effects, triggered by light. This gives hope that it might be possible to preferentially damage infiltrating GBM cells within the areas which cannot be surgically removed and further improve the chances of survival if an efficient photosensitiser and hardware for light delivery into the brain tissue are developed. So far, clinical trials with PDT were performed with one specific type of photosensitiser, protoporphyrin IX, which tends to accumulate in the cytoplasm of the GBM cells. In this review we discuss the idea that other types of molecules which build up in mitochondria could be explored as photosensitisers and used for PDT of these aggressive brain tumours.

Original languageEnglish
Article number75
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2020


  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Photosensitiser


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