Radioisotope therapy (RIT), in which radioactive agents are administered or implanted into the body to irradiate tumors from the inside, is a clinically adopted cancer treatment method but still needs improvement to enhance its performances. Herein, it is found that polyethylene glycol (PEG) modified tungsten disulfide (WS2 ) nanoflakes can be easily labeled by (188) Re, a widely used radioisotope for RIT, upon simple mixing. Like other high-Z elements acting as radiosensitizers, tungsten in the obtained (188) Re-WS2 -PEG would be able to absorb ionization radiation generated from (188) Re, enabling ''self-sensitization'' to enhance the efficacy of RIT as demonstrated in carefully designed in vitro experiments of this study. In the meanwhile, the strong NIR absorbance of WS2 -PEG could be utilized for NIR light-induced photothermal therapy (PTT), which if applied on tumors would be able to greatly relieve their hypoxia state and help to overcome hypoxia-associated radioresistance of tumors. Therefore, with (188) Re-WS2 -PEG as a multifunctional agent, which shows efficient passive tumor homing after intravenous injection, in vivo self-sensitized, NIR-enhanced RIT cancer treatment is realized, achieving excellent tumor killing efficacy in a mouse tumor model. This work presents a new concept of applying nanotechnology in RIT, by delivering radioisotopes into tumors, self-sensitizing the irradiation-induced cell damage, and modulating the tumor hypoxia state to further enhance the therapeutic outcomes.
Keywords: WS2 nanoflakes; photothermal therapy; radioisotope therapy; rhenium-188; self-sensitize.
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