Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence-emitting small organic molecules for cancer imaging and therapy

Hui Li, Yujun Kim, Hyoje Jung, Ji Young Hyun, Injae Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Near-infrared (NIR) fluorophores have unique features that endow them with several advantages over conventional shorter wavelength emitting dyes. As a result, they have been widely utilized as fluorescence and photoacoustic imaging agents, as well as photodynamic and photothermal therapeutic agents. However, non-targeting NIR fluorescence-emitting organic molecules have the drawback of low selectivity toward tumors, which potentially results in severe side effects caused by damage to normal tissues. Thus, the development of NIR fluorophore-based substances that target tumors is a highly active area in medicinal chemistry research. Research efforts carried out thus far have led to the development of a number of NIR fluorophore-based, tumor imaging and therapeutic agents. The discussion in this review focuses on the results of research reported in the 2012-2021 period, giving particular emphasis to studies of NIR small organic dye-based imaging and therapeutic agents that are designed utilizing cancer-selective strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8957-9008
Number of pages52
JournalChemical Society reviews
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct 13

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (grant no. 2020R1A2C3003462 to I. S.) and the KRICT (grant no. SI-2231-30 and BSF22-914 to J. Y. H.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)


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