Engineered nanomaterials that produce reactive oxygen species on exposure to X- and gamma-rays used in radiation therapy offer promise of novel cancer treatment strategies. Similar to photodynamic therapy but suitable for large and deep tumors, this new approach where nanomaterials acting as sensitizing agents are combined with clinical radiation can be effective at well-tolerated low radiation doses. Suitably engineered nanomaterials can enhance cancer radiotherapy by increasing the tumor selectivity and decreasing side effects. Additionally, the nanomaterial platform offers therapeutically valuable functionalities, including molecular targeting, drug/gene delivery, and adaptive responses to trigger drug release. The potential of such nanomaterials to be combined with radiotherapy is widely recognized. In order for further breakthroughs to be made, and to facilitate clinical translation, the applicable principles and fundamentals should be articulated. This review focuses on mechanisms underpinning rational nanomaterial design to enhance radiation therapy, the understanding of which will enable novel ways to optimize its therapeutic efficacy. A roadmap for designing nanomaterials with optimized anticancer performance is also shown and the potential clinical significance and future translation are discussed.
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- radiation therapy
- radiodynamic therapy
- reactive oxygen species