Biomarkers for DNA DSB inhibitors and radiotherapy clinical trials

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2008 Sep;27(3):445-58. doi: 10.1007/s10555-008-9137-8.


Major technical advances in radiotherapy, including IMRT and image-guided radiotherapy, have allowed for improved physical precision and increased dose delivery to the tumor, with better sparing of surrounding normal tissue. The development of inhibitors of the sensing and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is exciting and could be combined with precise radiotherapy targeting to improve local control following radiotherapy. However, caution must be exercised in order that DSB inhibitors are combined with radiotherapy in such a manner as to preserve the therapeutic ratio by exploiting repair deficiencies in malignant cells over that of normal cells. In this review, we discuss the rationale and current approaches to targeting DSB sensing and repair pathways in combined modality with radiotherapy. We also describe potential biomarkers that could be useful in detecting functional inhibition of DSB repair in a patient's tissues during clinical radiotherapy trials. Finally, we examine a number of issues relating to the use of DSB-inhibiting molecular agents and radiotherapy in the context of the tumor microenvironment, effects on normal tissues and the optimal timing and duration of the agent in relation to fractionated radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded / drug effects*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Enzyme Inhibitors