Many experimental and theoretical advances have recently allowed the study of direct and indirect effects of low-energy electrons (LEEs) on DNA damage. In an effort to explain how LEEs damage the human genome, researchers have focused efforts on LEE interactions with bacterial plasmids, DNA bases, sugar analogs, phosphate groups, and longer DNA moieties. Here, we summarize the current understanding of the fundamental mechanisms involved in LEE-induced damage of DNA and complex biomolecule films. Results obtained by several laboratories on films prepared and analyzed by different methods and irradiated with different electron-beam current densities and fluencies are presented. Despite varied conditions (e.g., film thicknesses and morphologies, intrinsic water content, substrate interactions, and extrinsic atmospheric compositions), comparisons show a striking resemblance in the types of damage produced and their yield functions. The potential of controlling this damage using molecular and nanoparticle targets with high LEE yields in targeted radiation-based cancer therapies is also discussed.


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