Radiosensitizers and radioprotectors are part of the chemical modifier approach to cancer therapy whereby the state of the tumor cells and/or normal tissues are modified such that a therapeutic gain is achieved using conventional radiation or chemotherapy. Radiosensitization can be achieved by the use of oxygen-mimetic compounds, agents that alter DNA sensitivity to irradiation, maneuvers that alter DNA repair processes, and manipulation of tissue oxygenation. Standard chemotherapeutic agents such as cisplatin can be utilized in a manner that optimizes the radiosensitization properties. Protection and sensitization can occur by altering the thiol status of the cell. The chemical modifiers field is both developing novel approaches to cancer treatment and increasing the understanding of basic cancer biology.
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