What is Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT)?

A Breakthrough of Radiation Therapy: BNCT as an Ultimate Cancer TreatmentBNCT stands for Boron Neutron Capture Therapy.BNCT is an epoch-making cancer treatment, which selectively destroys cancer cells without serious damage to normal cells. This method is obviously the most effective approach to tumors with high malignancy, such as in brain tumors, in which healthy and tumor cells coexist as an intermingled form.


BNCT features
  • New treatment modality for intractable cancers

    Expansion of indication will be expected for invasive, multiple, recurrent, radiation resistant, inoperable cancers, and cancers with radiotherapy maladaptation are expected to become indications.

  • Pro-QOL treatment approach
    • Only one-time irradiation (30-50 minutes)
    • Cure without surgery
    • Cancer cell specific effects
    • Adaptation of boron compound to target cancer can be checked up in advance
  • Pin-point cancer cell specific destruction

    Alpha beam with three times the biological effect of ordinary radiation and lithium particle destroys cancer cell DNA, where boron compounds are absorbed.


(Photo Credit: Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd.)


Mechanisms of BNCT

The Neutron easily passes through the tissues and almost does not negatively affect the body. However, it causes nuclear reaction if boron compound exists within the cancer cells. The nuclear reaction implies the reaction of alpha beams and lithium particles. Those are called “particle beams”.


Particle beams reach only a few micrometers. Due to this short tract, the damage of the beam’s effect is limited within the cell, where boron compounds are absorbed. Therefore, it is possible to selectively kill cancer cells by positively incorporating boron drugs into cancer cells.



History and Development of BNCT
History of BNCT

The theories and concepts of BNCT were developed in the United States in the 1930-50s. Reactors have thereafter been in use to produce neutrons for medical use.


Boron is a harmless substance and known as an ingredient contained in eye drops and mouthwashes. Some boron compounds, selectively absorbed by cancer cells, have been developed to date. Japan is a leading country both in research and production of those compounds.


Development of Accelerator for BNCT

BNCT facility installation in hospitals has been highly expected as an “ideal cancer treatment modality” for a long time. On the other hand, reactors are closed down one by one these days. Thus, reactor-based BNCT is difficult.


Under the above circumstances, an accelerator for neutron generation, which can be suitable to the hospital setting, was finally developed and installed for the first time in our BNCT Research Center, Southern TOHOKU General Hospital in 2014.


Before treatment A proliferated mass of recurrent parotid cancer was demonstrated herewith. A tip of the mass was exposed to the facial skin surface

After treatment Shrinkage of the mass was seen. Overlying skin was regenerated, since the effectiveness of BNCT was focused only on cancer cells instead of healthy cells and organs.


High Potentiality of BNCT

BNCT is totally different from conventional radiotherapies and is a new approach to cancer treatment. Often, cancer patients are restricted to receive additional treatment because of the negative influence of previously received treatments. BNCT can be selected as a feasible treatment approach even under the above conditions. By adopting BNCT, negative effects to normal cells can be minimized, therefore patients can receive the safest and the most effective treatment.


Timetable to Start Clinical Application of BNCT


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