Photoactivated nanomotors via aggregation induced emission for enhanced phototherapy

Shoupeng Cao, Jingxin Shao, Hanglong Wu, Shidong Song, Maria Teresa De Martino, Imke A. B. Pijpers, Heiner Friedrich, Loai K. E. A. Abdelmohsen, David S. Williams & Jan C. M. van Hest

Published: December 2021


Aggregation-induced emission (AIE) has, since its discovery, become a valuable tool in the field of nanoscience. AIEgenic molecules, which display highly stable fluorescence in an assembled state, have applications in various biomedical fields—including photodynamic therapy. Engineering structure-inherent, AIEgenic nanomaterials with motile properties is, however, still an unexplored frontier in the evolution of this potent technology. Here, we present phototactic/phototherapeutic nanomotors where biodegradable block copolymers decorated with AIE motifs can transduce radiant energy into motion and enhance thermophoretic motility driven by an asymmetric Au nanoshell. The hybrid nanomotors can harness two photon near-infrared radiation, triggering autonomous propulsion and simultaneous phototherapeutic generation of reactive oxygen species. The potential of these nanomotors to be applied in photodynamic therapy is demonstrated in vitro, where near-infrared light directed motion and reactive oxygen species induction synergistically enhance efficacy with a high level of spatial control.

Full Access Link: Nature Communications