Despite radiation therapy (RT) being an integral part of the treatment of most pediatric cancers and the recent discovery of novel molecular-targeted agents (MTAs) in this era of precision medicine with the potential to improve the therapeutic ratio of modern chemoradiotherapy regimens, there are only a few preclinical trials being conducted to discover novel radiosensitizers and radioprotectors. This has resulted in a paucity of translational clinical trials combining RT and novel MTAs. This report describes the opportunities and challenges of investigating RT together with MTAs in preclinical testing for immunotherapy, brain tumors, and sarcomas in pediatric oncology. We discuss the need for improving the collaboration between radiation oncologists, biologists, and physicists to improve the reliability, reproducibility, and translational potential of RT-based preclinical research. Current translational clinical trials using RT and MTAs for immunotherapy, brain tumors, and sarcomas are described. The technologic advances in experimental RT, availability of novel experimental tumor models, advances in immunology and tumor biology, and the discovery of novel MTAs together hold considerable promise for good quality preclinical and clinical multimodality research to improve the current rates of survival and toxicity in children afflicted with cancer.
Keywords: brain tumors; immunotherapy; molecular-targeted agents; physics; radiation therapy; sarcomas.
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