What is Boron Neutron Capture Therapy?
BNCT is a form of radiotherapy that targets cancer cells using biochemical methods. One of the constituents of natural boron, known as boron-10 (or 10B), is irradiated with low-energy thermal neutrons, yielding high linear energy transfer alpha particles and recoiling lithium-7 (or 7Li) nuclei. These biochemical interactions are known as nuclear capture and fission reactions.
The advantages of BNCT
1. Selective cancer cell destruction
Tumor cells absorb much more 10B boron than normal cells. For example, malignant brain cells may take in seven times as much 10B as normal cells. As a result, the fission reaction process destroys only cancer cells.
2. Complete in a single session
Unlike other methods, such as proton and heavy-ion radiotherapies, BNCT requires only one or two radiation sessions, reducing hospital visits and improving the quality of life of patients. BNCT can also be used for recurring cancer, even in patients who have undergone X-ray treatment.
3. Highly effective with few side effects
Alpha particles and lithium-7 nuclei act only at short range (5–9 micrometers), selectively killing tumors without significant damage to adjacent normal tissue.