Geant4-DNA simulation of human cancer cells irradiation with helium ion beams

Publication Name

Physica Medica


Purpose: This study aimed to develop a computational environment for the accurate simulation of human cancer cell irradiation using Geant4-DNA. New cell geometrical models were developed and irradiated by alpha particle beams to induce DNA damage. The proposed approach may help further investigation of the benefits of external alpha irradiation therapy. Methods: The Geant4-DNA Monte Carlo (MC) toolkit allows the simulation of cancer cell geometries that can be combined with accurate modelling of physical, physicochemical and chemical stages of liquid water irradiation, including radiolytic processes. Geant4-DNA is used to calculate direct and non-direct DNA damage yields, such as single and double strand breaks, produced by the deposition of energy or by the interaction of DNA with free radicals. Results: In this study, the “molecularDNA” example application of Geant4-DNA was used to quantify early DNA damage in human cancer cells upon irradiation with alpha particle beams, as a function of linear energy transfer (LET). The MC simulation results are compared to experimental data, as well as previously published simulation data. The simulation results agree well with the experimental data on DSB yields in the lower LET range, while the experimental data on DSB yields are lower than the results obtained with the “molecularDNA” example in the higher LET range. Conclusion: This study explored and demonstrated the possibilities of the Geant4-DNA toolkit together with the “molecularDNA” example to simulate the helium beam irradiation of cancer cell lines, to quantify the early DNA damage, or even the following DNA damage response.

Open Access Status

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Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Providence Health Care



Link to publisher version (DOI)