“Clean” nuclear fusion to fight tumors
The new technique, called PBCT (Proton Boron Capture Therapy), involves the administration of a solution containing boron-11 (boron’s main isotope) molecule nuclei to a tumor mass. Subsequently, the latter is treated with proton beams – whose energy and dose levels are the typical ones of classical proton therapy – which trigger fusion by generating alpha particles (helium nuclei). Once produced, the alpha particles stop almost instantaneously inside the cells, releasing all their energy and causing damage and, in some cases, the destruction of the DNA of the tumor cells while preserving healthy tissue. The results, published in the Scientific Reports journal, show that the bombardment with low energy alpha particles (about 4 megaelectronvolts) – which act as projectiles with mass four times greater than normal protons – have generated a 30% increase in mortality of cancer cells.
, Ricercatore Micro Nano Facility (CMM).