Radiation therapy is a cornerstone of modern cancer therapy alongside surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy, with over half of all cancer patients receiving radiation therapy as part of their treatment regimen. Development of novel radiation sensitizers that can improve the therapeutic window of radiation therapy are sought after, particularly for tumors at an elevated risk of local and regional recurrence such as locally-advanced lung, head and neck, and gastrointestinal tumors. This review discusses clinical strategies to enhance radiotherapy efficacy and decrease toxicity, hence, increasing the overall therapeutic window. A focus is given to the molecular targets that have been identified and their associated mechanisms of action in enhancing radiotherapy. Examples include cell survival and proliferation signaling such as the EGFR and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways, DNA repair genes including PARP and ATM/ATR, angiogenic growth factors, epigenetic regulators, and immune checkpoint proteins. By manipulating various mechanisms of tumor resistance to ionizing radiation (IR), targeted therapies hold significant value to increase the therapeutic window of radiotherapy. Further, the use of novel nanoparticles to enhance radiotherapy is also reviewed, including nanoparticle delivery of chemotherapies, metallic (high-Z) nanoparticles, and nanoparticle delivery of targeted therapies – all of which may improve the therapeutic window of radiotherapy by enhancing the tumor response to IR or reducing normal tissue toxicity.
- Radiation sensitizer
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging