Scientists are making progress with new charged particle therapy for cancer

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Physics of neutron capture enhanced particle therapy. As ions in the beam pass through tissues proximal to the target, some undergo nuclear interactions with target matter, creating a variety of nuclear fragmentation products, including neutrons, which diffuse and thermalize within the body. Credit: International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2024.02.052

ANSTO researchers have made significant progress with a new approach to cancer treatment, Neutron Capture Enhanced Particle Therapy (NCEPT), which has the potential to improve outcomes for patients with deep, diffuse tumors.

The results of their research published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics demonstrate that the addition of neutron scavengers to cancer cells during irradiation with carbon and helium ions resulted in a three- to five-fold greater reduction in cancer cell survival and delayed growth cell survival and growth in vitro, compared with ion radiation alone.

The study, led by a team of researchers from ANSTO with collaborators from the University of Wollongong, the University of Sydney and the National Institutes for Quantum Sciences and Technology (Japan), confirms that internally generated neutrons can be used to target microinfiltrates and cancer cells target effectively. outside the defined treatment areas.

“Our results demonstrate the potential for NCEPT to deliver an increased dose to tumor tissue within the treatment volume, while reducing radiation doses to non-target tissue,” said Assoc. Prof. Mitra Safavi-Naeini, project leader and corresponding author of the study. “This could lead to better outcomes for patients with challenging cancers, such as brain tumors, that are difficult to treat with conventional therapies.”

This innovative approach could have a significant impact on the treatment of a wide range of cancers, improving outcomes and quality of life for patients worldwide.

The international collaboration between ANSTO and the Japanese National Institute for Quantum Science and Technology (QST) is crucial in the development of NCEPT. Leveraging the expertise and resources of multiple domestic and international institutions has contributed to recent progress.

The researchers used two different neutron capture agents, [10B]-BPA and [157Gd]-DOTA-TPP, in their experiments with human glioblastoma cells. They found that cells treated with these agents showed significantly reduced survival and slowed growth when irradiated with carbon and helium ion beams, compared to cells not treated with the agents.

The study also highlighted the potential for NCEPT to be applied to a broader range of deep and diffuse tumors, by targeting radiation dose to microinfiltrates and cells outside the defined treatment areas.

“We believe NCEPT represents a new paradigm in charged particle therapy,” said Nicholas Howell, first author of the study.

“By combining the spatial and temporal precision of charged particle therapy with the biochemical targeting of neutron capture therapy, we can achieve remarkably high specificity of energy deposition in cancer cells and tissues.”

“This could lead to better outcomes for patients with cancers that are currently difficult to treat effectively.”

The development of NCEPT represents a significant step forward in addressing the ongoing need for innovative and disruptive technologies to improve long-term survival and quality of life for cancer patients.

The team now plans further research to evaluate the efficacy of NCEPT in vivo and explore its potential for clinical translation.

Currently, particle therapy is not available in Australia, but the Australian Bragg Center for Proton Therapy and Research (the Bragg Center) in Adelaide is under construction and expected to commence operations in 2024-2025.

Earlier this yearthe group published the first experimental demonstration of real-time neutron capture discrimination in helium and carbon ion therapy in an article in Scientific reports.

There are two patents associated with the approach.

More information:
Nicholas Howell et al., Neutron capture enhances dose and reduces cancer cell viability in and out of the beam during helium and carbon ion therapy, International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2024.02.052

Provided by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO)

Quote: Scientists Make Progress on New Charged Particle Therapy for Cancer (2024, May 10), Retrieved May 10, 2024 from

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