Date: 08 Aug 2006

Auger radiation targeted into DNA: a therapy perspective

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Auger electron emitters that can be targeted into DNA of tumour cells represent an attractive systemic radiation therapy goal. In the situation of DNA-associated decay, the high linear energy transfer (LET) of Auger electrons gives a high relative biological efficacy similar to that of α particles. In contrast to α radiation, however, Auger radiation is of low toxicity when decaying outside the cell nucleus, as in cytoplasm or outside cells during blood transport. The challenge for such therapies is the requirement to target a high percentage of all cancer cells. An overview of Auger radiation therapy approaches of the past decade shows several research directions and various targeting vehicles. The latter include hormones, peptides, halogenated nucleotides, oligonucleotides and internalising antibodies.


Here, we will discuss the basic principles of Auger electron therapy as compared with vector-guided α and β radiation. We also review some radioprotection issues and briefly present the main advantages and disadvantages of the different targeting modalities that are under investigation.