High-Z gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) conjugated to a targeting antibody can help to improve tumor control in radiotherapy while simultaneously minimizing radiotoxicity to adjacent healthy tissue. This paper summarizes the main findings of a joint research program which applied AuNP-conjugates in preclinical modeling of radiotherapy at the Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich and Helmholtz Zentrum München. A pharmacokinetic model of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles was developed in preparation for a model simulating the uptake and distribution of AuNPs in mice. Multi-scale Monte Carlo simulations were performed on a single AuNP and multiple AuNPs in tumor cells at cellular and molecular levels to determine enhancements in the radiation dose and generation of chemical radicals in close proximity to AuNPs. A biologically based mathematical model was developed to predict the biological response of AuNPs in radiation enhancement. Although simulations of a single AuNP demonstrated a clear dose enhancement, simulations relating to the generation of chemical radicals and the induction of DNA strand breaks induced by multiple AuNPs showed only a minor dose enhancement. The differences in the simulated enhancements at molecular and cellular levels indicate that further investigations are necessary to better understand the impact of the physical, chemical, and biological parameters in preclinical experimental settings prior to a translation of these AuNPs models into targeted cancer radiotherapy.
Keywords: Monte Carlo simulation; X-rays; cancers; cmHsp70.1; conjugation; enhancement effect; gold nanoparticles; pharmacokinetic model; radiobiological modeling; targeted radiotherapy.