The spectral and the photophysical properties of phthalocyanines have made these dyes attractive for applications in photodynamic therapy of cancer. One important known issue of these compounds is their tendency to aggregate in aqueous media, which decreases their fluorescence, triplet, and singlet oxygen quantum yields. We report on the use of apomyoglobin as a carrier for zinc phthalocyanine (ZnPc) to overcome solubility limitations of the dye. We show that the protein is able to bind ZnPc in monomeric form, preserving its photophysics. Confocal fluorescence imaging of PC3 and HeLa cells, treated with the complex between ZnPc and apomyoglobin, demonstrates that the photosensitizer is uptaken quickly by cells. Illumination of treated cells strongly decreases viability, as demonstrated by live/dead fluorescence assay.
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