Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a non-invasive and tumour-specific therapy. Photosensitizers (PSs) (essential ingredients in PDT) aggregate easily owing to their lipophilic properties. The aim of this study was to synthesise a PS (methyl pheophorbide a, MPa) and design a biocompatible lipid-based nanocarrier to improve its bioavailability and pharmacological effects. MPa-loaded nano-transfersomes were fabricated by sonication. The characteristics of synthesised PS and nano-transfersomes were assessed. The effects of PDT were evaluated by 1,3-diphenylisobenzofuran assay and by measuring photo-cytotoxicity against HeLa and A549 cell lines. The mean particle size and zeta potential for nano-transfersomes ranged from 95.84 to 267.53 nm and −19.53 to −45.08 mV, respectively. Nano-transfersomes exhibited sustained drug release for 48 h in a physiological environment (as against burst release in an acidic environment), which enables its use as a pH-responsive drug release system in PDT with enhanced photodynamic activity and reduced side effects. The formulations showed light cytotoxicity, but no dark toxicity, which meant that light irradiation resulted in anti-cancer effects. Additionally, formulations with the smallest size exhibited photodynamic activity to a larger extent than those with the highest loading capacity or free MPa. These results suggest that our MPa-loaded nano-transfersome system is a promising anti-cancer strategy for PDT.
Measuring pH has become a major key for determining health conditions, and food safety. The traditional pH assessment approaches are costly and offer low sensitivity. Here, a novel pH sensor based on a pH-responsive hydrogel has been developed. A Fresnel lens pattern was replicated on the surface of the pH-responsive hydrogel using the replica mould method. The pH sensors were tested in a pH range of 4–7. Introducing various pH solutions to the pH sensor led to volumetric shifts as the hydrogel swelled with pH. Consequently, the dimensions of the replicated Fresnel lens changed, modifying the focal length and the focus efficiency of the optical sensor. As a result, the measured optical power at a fixed distance from the sensor changed with pH. The optical sensor showed the best performance in the acidic region when pH changed from 4.5 to 5.5, in which the recorded power increased by 13%. The sensor exhibited high sensitivity to pH changes with a short respond time in a reversible manner. The developed pH optical sensor may have applications in medical point-of-care diagnostics and wearable continuous pH detection devices.