Cancer

What is Boron Neutron Capture Therapy?

An experimental form of radiotherapy known as

boron neutron capture therapy

is emerging as a viable option for treating advanced head and neck cancer along with some forms of brain tumors. Research on this therapy is being carried out in Finland. Japan has started to try this therapy for treating cancer in the head and neck. This article tries to gain further insight on this latest remedy for cancer.

What is Boron Neutron Capture Therapy?

  • The fundamental particle present in the nucleus of every atom, neutron, was discovered by Sir James Chadwick in 1932.
  • In 1935, a scientist H. J. Taylor found that the nuclei of Boron 10 had the ability to capture low energetic thermal neutrons.
  • The application of this fact in the treatment of cancer was proposed in 1936 by a researcher Locher.
  • Radioactive substances like Boron 10 can be transported inside the tumor chunk with the help of certain chemicals.
  • Then these tumors can be irradiated with thermal neutrons. The latter react with the boron 10 nuclei in such a manner that a fission process is initiated.
  • Alpha particles and lithium 7 are produced as by-products of this reaction along with the release of certain energy.
  • This energy destroys the surrounding malignant cells. The released particles are energetic enough to travel up to a distance of 5-9 micrometers approximately.
  • As a result, the damage caused to the surrounding healthy cells owing to the release of these energy particles is very minimal.
  • The chemical which transports boron 10 to the cancer tumor is induced through an injection into the veins of the patients.
  • The thermal neutrons are created in a nuclear reactor, with the moderator producing the appropriate energy to these particles as required in BNCT.

Conclusion:

Though there are several positive reports on the efficacy of this remedy, considerable amount of work has to be carried out before

boron neutron capture therapy

can emerge as a first-line therapy for several advanced cancer types.

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