Article Origins of BNCT Review Year 1997

Early history of development of boron neutron capture therapy of tumors

Journal of Neuro-Oncology, 1997

Authors:   William Sweet,
Journal: Journal of Neuro-Oncology
Abstract: The stable isotope 10B has a peculiarly marked avidity to capture slow neutrons whereupon it disintegrates into a lithium and a helium atom. These give up the 2.4 MeV of disintegration energy which they share within 5 and 9 μm of the 10B atom respectively. This means that the cell closest to the 10B atom bears the brunt of its atomic explosion. The objective of the tumor therapist is to find a carrier molecule for the boron atom which will concentrate in the tumor. Although a numb er of investigators saw the peculiar advantage of this selective tactic to achieve destruction of a species of unwanted cells, no success in animal studies was achieved until 1950. Sweet and colleagues found that the capillary blood-brain barrier keeps many substances out of the normal brain but that the gliomas had much less of such a barrier. He, Brownell, Soloway and Hatanaka in Boston together with Farr, Godwin, Robertson, Stickley, Konikowski and others at the Brookhaven National Laboratory worked partially in collaboration and partly independently. We irradiated at 3 nuclear reactors several series of glioma patients with no long-term remission, much less a cure being achieved. Hatanaka on his return to Japan kept BNCT alive by treating a total of 140 patients with various brain tumors. Beginning in 1972, Mishima and colleagues have achieved useful concentrations of 10B-borono-phenylalanine, an analogue of the melanin precursor tyrosine, for BNCT of melanomas.