Research Highlight

Tailored X-rays for cancer

doi:10.1038/nindia.2009.343 Published online 29 November 2009

New computer-based models along with high-end X-ray imaging could aid the use of nanoparticles of gold and other heavy elements in cancer therapy and diagnostics1.

To minimize radiation risks and enhance therapeutic efficiency, researchers have used X-rays at precisely tuned 'resonant' energies efficiently absorbed by nanoparticles of gold and iron.

Upon irradiation by mono-energetic X-ray beams, the embedded nanoparticles emit photons and low-energy electrons breaking up the DNA in malignant tissues.

In addition to iron and gold, the researchers are also experimenting with bromine and iodine, which are active elements in radiological contrast agents used for imaging, as also the high atomic number element platinum.

"The resonant nano-plasma theranostics or RNPT could revolutionise X-ray diagnostics and therapy," says lead researcher Anil Pradhan. The RNPT approach introduces atomic and molecular spectroscopy in X-ray imaging in conjunction with nanobiotechnology, reducing radiation exposure by factors from 10 to 100, he adds.

The authors of this work are from: Department of Astronomy, and department of Chemistry, The Ohio State University, Ohio; department of radiation oncology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Applied physics division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, US and High Performance Computing Group, ISL, IBM India, Bangalore, India.


  1. Pradhan, K. A. et al. Resonant X-ray Enhancement of the Auger Effect in High-Z Atoms, Molecules, and Nanoparticles: Potential Biomedical Applications. J. Phys. Chem. A. 113, 12356-12363 (2009) | Article | PubMed