This article is a highlight of the paper by Anquez et al. in this issue of Photochemistry and Photobiology and describes the potential benefits of direct excitation of molecular oxygen to produce singlet oxygen (1O2) rather than using a photosensitizer. Due to its simplicity, the direct excitation of molecular oxygen can potentially overcome problems associated with systemic administration of dyes, such as skin photosensitivity and the clearance of free sensitizer from the body. However, concerns associated with the technique include indiscriminate generation of extracellular and intracellular 1O2, the difficulty of controlling necrotic vs apoptotic cell death and the possible consequences of thermal effects.
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