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Open Access Open Badges Review

Preclinical models in radiation oncology

Jenna Kahn12, Philip J Tofilon1 and Kevin Camphausen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Radiation Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Drive, Building 10, CRC Rm B2-3561, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA

2 Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, Providence, RI, USA

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Radiation Oncology 2012, 7:223  doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-223

Published: 27 December 2012


As the incidence of cancer continues to rise, the use of radiotherapy has emerged as a leading treatment modality. Preclinical models in radiation oncology are essential tools for cancer research and therapeutics. Various model systems have been used to test radiation therapy, including in vitro cell culture assays as well as in vivo ectopic and orthotopic xenograft models. This review aims to describe such models, their advantages and disadvantages, particularly as they have been employed in the discovery of molecular targets for tumor radiosensitization. Ultimately, any model system must be judged by its utility in developing more effective cancer therapies, which is in turn dependent on its ability to simulate the biology of tumors as they exist in situ. Although every model has its limitations, each has played a significant role in preclinical testing. Continued advances in preclinical models will allow for the identification and application of targets for radiation in the clinic.

Preclinical models; Radiation oncology; Radiosensitizer; Orthotopic xenograft model