The Radiobiology of Radiopharmaceuticals

Zachary S. Morris, Andrew Z. Wang, Susan J. Knox

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Radiopharmaceutical therapy or targeted radionuclide therapy (TRT) is a well-established class of cancer therapeutics that includes a growing number of FDA-approved drugs and a promising pipeline of experimental therapeutics. Radiobiology is fundamental to a mechanistic understanding of the therapeutic capacity of these agents and their potential toxicities. However, the field of radiobiology has historically focused on external beam radiation. Critical differences exist between TRT and external beam radiotherapy with respect to dosimetry, dose rate, linear energy transfer, duration of treatment delivery, fractionation, range, and target volume. These distinctions simultaneously make it difficult to extrapolate from the radiobiology of external beam radiation to that of TRT and pose considerable challenges for preclinical and clinical studies investigating TRT. Here, we discuss these challenges and explore the current understanding of the radiobiology of radiopharmaceuticals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Radiation Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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