Using Photo-Deoxygenation Induced Apoptosis to Treat Cancer

SLU ID 18-003 | Induced Cytotoxicity via Photo-Deoxygenation

Intellectual Property Status


  • Provisional patent application submitted
  • Know-how based
  • Licensee
  • Development partner
  • Commercial partner
  • Investment
  • University spin out


Photo-dynamic therapy is currently used to treat certain cancers via light by using organic and inorganic compounds that are excited by specific wavelengths of light. Photo-dynamic therapies often use chelated metals to produce oxygen radicals which will then go onto make reactive oxygen species. Due to the triphenylphosphonium substituent, the molecule is hypothesized to aggregate and target mitochondria, which could prove beneficial in cancer therapeutics.


Researchers at Saint Louis University have synthesized a molecule that undergoes S-O bond cleavage to produce a toxic compound. They have conducted in vitro experiments that demonstrate a decrease in percent cell viability of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells when they are exposed to the molecule and irradiated with UV-A.


The potential advantages of this technology over existing solutions include:

  • Increase targeting of mitochondria
  • Increase induction of apoptosis
  • Increase the options for treating various types of cancers
  • Minimize adverse effects of cancer therapies


Potential applications of this technology include:

  • Photodynamic therapies for treating cancer
  • Receptor targeted cancer therapies
  • Drug development


Saint Louis University is seeking partners to further develop and commercialize this technology.