Scientific Reports, 8(1), 1141

First experimental proof of Proton Boron Capture Therapy (PBCT) to enhance protontherapy effectiveness

Cirrone, GAP, Manti, L, Margarone, D, Petringa, G, Giuffrida, L, Minopoli, A, Picciotto, A, Russo, G, Cammarata, F, Pisciotta, P, others

Protontherapy is hadrontherapy’s fastest-growing modality and a pillar in the battle against cancer. Hadrontherapy’s superiority lies in its inverted depth-dose profile, hence tumour-confined irradiation. Protons, however, lack distinct radiobiological advantages over photons or electrons. Higher LET (Linear Energy Transfer) 12C-ions can overcome cancer radioresistance: DNA lesion complexity increases with LET, resulting in efficient cell killing, i.e. higher Relative Biological Effectiveness (RBE). However, economic and radiobiological issues hamper 12C-ion clinical amenability. Thus, enhancing proton RBE is desirable. To this end, we exploited the p + 11B → 3α reaction to generate high-LET alpha particles with a clinical proton beam. To maximize the reaction rate, we used sodium borocaptate (BSH) with natural boron content. Boron-Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) uses 10B-enriched BSH for neutron irradiation-triggered alpha particles. We recorded significantly increased cellular lethality and chromosome aberration complexity. A strategy combining protontherapy’s ballistic precision with the higher RBE promised by BNCT and 12C-ion therapy is thus demonstrated.

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