Dr. Daniel Higgins

Department: Chemistry
Departmental Website

“Anticancer drugs are often toxic to both normal and cancer cells. One way to improve cancer treatment is to develop drugs that can be triggered in the cancer cells alone. Recent developments in photodynamic cancer therapies have shown that light can be used to trigger the activity of some drugs. Unfortunately, human tissue does not transmit light in the range that would be most useful (including visible and ultraviolet light), allowing too little photon energy to be effective with many such drugs. Our team is working on methods that rely on the ability of some drug molecules to simultaneously absorb multiple photons from intense pulses of laser light. The drugs we work on are well-known photo-oxidants and are easily modified to bind strongly to DNA. They destroy DNA when illuminated, which prevents cell division (propagation of the cancer) and promotes cancer cell death.”