Scientists: protons destroy cancer faster and safer than radiotherapy

© Fotolia / crevisРаковая cell in the human bodyScientists: protons destroy cancer faster and safer than radiotherapy© Fotolia / crevis

Scientists from Russia has successfully completed experiments on the destruction of cancer using beams of protons and proved that this technique of cancer is faster and safer than conventional radiotherapy. The results of the experiments were published in the journal «Biophysics».

«Proton therapy, we hope, will be effective in the treatment of radioresistant cancers, localized in the neighborhood of important organs. These include, primarily, the tumors in the neck and brain. This type of cancer often affects children,» — says Olga Rozanova, Institute of theoretical and experimental Biophysics RAS, Pushchino, quoted in the press service of the ITEB.

In the last ten years, scientists are actively discussing the possibility of transition from conventional radiotherapy to proton therapy for cancer treatment. Protons, unlike electrons or gamma radiation, are more «precisely» and less affect healthy tissue in the treatment of tumors, which allows to apply them for cancer of the brain, bones and other organs, which is difficult to get surgeons.

The main problem of this approach is its high cost – in fact, for similar treatment is needed for a complete particle accelerator – and the lack of understanding of when to stop the irradiation with protons and how secure it is.

Rozanova and colleagues, under the leadership of Svetlana Zaikinoj of ITEB RAS decided to find the answer to both of these questions, by studying how the body several mice, whose body, scientists implanted cancer cells responded to the «fire» of the hydrogen ions.

Waiting for the fixing of cancer in the body of rodents, biologists were irradiated them with protons in «Prometheus» in Protvino, created by scientists from the physics Institute in Protvino, changing the number of sessions of proton therapy, duration of irradiation and the beam power. After that, the rodents were released back into the cell and Biophysics have started to monitor how changed their condition.

As it turned out, even a relatively short session of exposure has a positive effect on the health of mice the growth of tumors in their body on average has slowed down to 5-6 times. Worked best «sighting» of proton therapy aimed only at the tumor itself – in such cases, over 80% of the rodents escaped from the primary cancer. Mouse, whose body was illuminated by a wider beam of particles, only in 45% of cases were able to cope with tumor.

Getting rid of the primary cancer, however, did not save a large part of rodents from of relapses in 60% of mice cured after some time there was a new tumor. However, mice which were irradiated with protons more precisely, he lived three months longer than their counterparts from the second group that can also be considered a plus. In turn, animals in which no recurrence occurred, lived for about two years. So, on average, live healthy mice not suffering from cancer.

All this, according to scientists, testifies in favor of the fact that proton therapy works more quickly and effectively than conventional radiotherapy, especially if you restrict its action only to the area within the tumor itself. In addition, the high efficiency of the protons suggests that the treatment can be limited to two or even one session of therapy, if we can solve the problem with relapses. This will reduce the cost for patients and help to save the lives of patients with brain cancer and other inoperable tumors, considered to be hopeless now.