Article Clinical trials Radiobiology Review Year 2018

A realistic appraisal of boron neutron capture therapy as a cancer treatment modality

Cancer Commun., 2018

Authors:   Rolf F Barth, Zizhu Zhang, Tong Liu
Journal: Cancer Commun.
Abstract: Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) is a binary therapeutic modality based on the nuclear capture and fission reactions that occur when the stable isotope boron-10 is irradiated with neutrons to produce high-energy alpha particles and recoiling lithium-7 nuclei. In this Commentary we will focus on a number of papers that were presented at a Symposium entitled “Current Clinical Status of Boron Neutron Capture Therapy and Paths to the Future”, which was held in September 2017 at the China National Convention Center in Beijing. Results were presented by clinicians from Japan, Finland, the United States, the China mainland and Taiwan, China who have been working in the multiple disciplines that are required for carrying out clinical BNCT. The main focus was on the treatment of patients with malignant brain tumors, recurrent tumors of the head and neck region, and cutaneous melanomas. The results obtained in treating these patients were reported in detail and, although most of the patients with brain tumors and head and neck cancer were not cured, there was evidence of some clinical efficacy. Although there are a number of problems that must be addressed, further clinical studies to evaluate the efficacy of BNCT are warranted. First, despite considerable effort by numerous investigators over the past 40 years, there still are only two boron-containing drugs in clinical use, L-boronophenylalanine (BPA) and sodium borocaptate (BSH). Therefore, until new and more effective boron delivery agents are developed, efforts should be directed to improving the dosing and delivery of BPA and BSH. Second, due to a variety of reasons, nuclear reactor-based BNCT has ended except for its use in the China mainland and Taiwan. Therefore, the future of BNCT depends upon the results of the ongoing Phase II clinical trials that are being carried out in Japan and the soon to be initiated trials that will be carried out in Finland. If the results obtained from these clinical trials are sufficiently promising, then BNCT will have a clear path to the future, especially for patients with the therapeutically challenging malignancies that in the past have been treated with reactor-based BNCT.