In a note published on the 'site' of the University of Porto, the communication office of FCUP explains that, under a research project led by the institution, researchers have identified "about 20 molecules" with potential for a future drug - a hydrogel - that could be used in photodynamic therapy (PDT).
Photodynamic therapy uses light emissions and is totally non-invasive.
Quoted in the note, researcher Joana Oliveira, from the Associated Laboratory for Green Chemistry (LAQV-REQUIMTE), says that the project is "hemisynthesising a library of blue pigments, derived from wine, and using them in new formulations, taking advantage of their physicochemical properties and bioactivity for skin PDT".
From the synthesis of blue pigments and the molecules identified include portisins, named because they were originally discovered in port wine.
"We believe that these molecules can be used in the development of a colourless hydrogel for application on the skin during photodynamic therapy sessions", says Iva Fernandes, researcher from LAQV-REQUIMTE, adding that the hydrogel is the "easiest formulation for application on the skin".
In this sense, the researchers of the project, entitled WINPUT, began working on the development of a hydrogel that "absorbs light in the wavelength corresponding to the red colour" and that "works as a transport vehicle to the places inside the skin where the sick cells are.
"With the red light, cells become excited and start producing singleto oxygen and other types of oxygen that end up destroying the cells themselves," explains Joana Oliveira.
The researchers will now laboratory test with cells that are at the origin of human skin diseases and inflammations, and only after this first phase of tests, they will move on to the first clinical trials with humans.
The project, funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and ending in September, also includes researchers from the University of Aveiro, partner institution belonging to LAQV-REQUIMTE.