These results were obtained in a Phase I/II study at the Helsinki University Hospital, Finland. They open a new field for Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT), since thus far BNCT has been evaluated only in the treatment of some brain tumours.

All patients in the study had cancer of the head-and-neck that had recurred locally after surgery and conventional radiation therapy. Ten out of the 12 patients had substantial tumour shrinkage following BNCT, and in seven cases the tumour disappeared completely. Adverse effects of treatment were moderate and resembled those of conventional radiation therapy. The study has been expanded, and up to 30 subjects will now be allowed to enter the study protocol.

Boron neutron capture therapy is a form of targeted radiation treatment for cancer. It is still considered experimental. In this method a boron-containing compound (boronophenylalanine) is first infused into a peripheral vein, following which the compound accumulates in cancer tissue. Cancer is subsequently irradiated with neutrons obtained from a nuclear reactor, which causes boron atoms to split within the cancerous tissue as a result from a boron neutron capture reaction. The resulting smaller particles cause a large radiation effect within the tumour tissue, which destroys cancer cells.

The technique allows targeting of a high dosage of radiation to the tumour while allowing sparing of the adjacent normal tissues from the highest doses of radiation. Boron-mediated targeting of radiation allows treatment of patients who can no longer be treated with conventional radiation therapy. BNCT is administered as single one-day treatment that may be repeated.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Helsinki