Nanotechnology for Radiation Oncology

An evolving body of recent literature alludes to the potential to sensitize tumors to radiation therapy using metallic nanoparticles. In preclinical studies, a technique that holds promise for eventual clinical deployment is nanoparticle-assisted radiation dose enhancement. Computational techniques offer an explanation for and predict the biophysical consequences at a nano-/meso-scopic scale. Preclinical studies in vitro and in vivo provide evidence of radiosensitization. Nonetheless, there are persisting gaps in knowledge relating to the molecular mechanism of action and optimum nanoparticle characteristics – some of these issues will be addressed. My presentation will start with familiarizing the audience with the potential applications of gold nanoparticles in radiation therapy using specific illustrative examples, explore ways to understand the underlying mechanisms of the effects observed, and provide a perspective on how to advance these concepts to the clinic.

Dr. Krishnan is actively involved in patient care and clinical trials on the gastrointestinal cancer service of the Department of Radiation Oncology. His clinical effort is directed towards developing novel therapies for patients with gastrointestinal tumors and finding molecular and imaging biomarkers of response to chemoradiation therapy. He is the principal investigator of several clinical trials focusing on radiation sensitization strategies for these tumors, especially liver, pancreatic and rectal cancers. The Krishnan laboratory focuses on: (i) identifying strategies for and mechanisms of sensitization of tumors to radiation therapy using metallic nanoparticles to generate radiation dose-enhancement and/or hyperthermia, (ii) developing nanoparticle-based molecular imaging probes to facilitate image-guided therapy, and (iii) evaluating mechanisms of radiosensitization by biological agents and repurposed FDA approved drugs used for other diseases. Current nanoparticle research is geared towards understanding, optimizing, and modeling radiation dose enhancement with tumor- specific bioconjugated gold nanoparticles; dose enhancement with on-demand triggered release payloads of gold nanoparticles and siRNA; and image-guided surgical margin assessment and treatment with theranostic nanoparticles.