BORON NEUTRON CAPTURE THERAPY
Boron Neutron Capture Therapy is a kind of cancer radiotherapy especially promising in case of tumours unfavourably located, tumours resistant to traditional therapies, and/or disseminated malignant neoplastic diseases. Great hope is placed in its ability to cure the disease or at least to improve quality of patient’s life.
How does it work?
The therapy belongs to the so-called bi-modal therapies i.e. it consists of two steps. First, a pharmaceutical containing molecules that preferentially penetrate malignant cells and are not absorbed by healthy cells is administered to the patient. The molecules are labelled with boron stable isotope, therefore they are referred to as boron carrier. Next, the patient body is irradiated with epithermal neutrons of some specific energy. Thermal neutrons are preferentially captured by boron nuclei (capture cross section many times greater than that of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen of which tissues are mainly composed of). Having captured a neutron, boron nucleus decays to a lithium nucleus and a high energy alpha particle. Both reaction products traverse the adjacent matter depositing their high energy on their path. However, because of their small range comparable with cell size (5 and 9 µm, respectively), reaction products kill malignant cells only not damaging any healthy tissue in the vicinity.