Volume 3, Issue 3

Case study



G.A.P. Cirrone, G. Petringa, A. Attili, D. Chiappara, L. Manti, V. Bravatà, D. Margarone, M. Mazzocco, G. Cuttone

Pages: 147–151

DOI: 10.21175/RadJ.2018.03.025

Received: 13 OCT 2018, Received revised: 8 JAN 2019, Accepted: 12 JAN 2019, Published online: 28 FEB 2019

A work recently published experimentally demonstrates an increase in the radiobiological efficacy of clinical proton beams when a tumour is treated in the presence of a concentration of 11B. For the first time, this paper demonstrates the potential role of the p+11B —> 3α (for brevity, p-B) reaction in the biological enhancement of proton therapy effectiveness. The work reports robust experimental data in terms of clonogenic cell survival and chromosomal aberrations and unambiguously shows the presence of an enhancement when cells were exposed to a clinical proton beam subject to treatment with sodium boroncaptate (BSH). Moreover, the greater occurrence of complex-type chromosomal exchanges points to the effect in terms of radiation of a LET (Linear Energy Transfer) greater than that of protons alone, possibly the alpha particles generated by the reaction. At the same time, we emphasized that analytical calculations, performed on the basis of the well-known total production cross-section data, are not able to explain the effect in a macroscopic way, i.e., solely in terms of a trivial increase in the total dose released in the cells by the alpha-particles. In this paper, thanks to simulations and analytical calculations, we will discuss the theoretically expected alpha-particle yield and the corresponding LET and RBE (Relative Biological Effectiveness) increase related to the 11B presence. We conclude that a mere calculation based on the classical concepts of integral dose and average LET and RBE cannot be used to justify the observed radiobiological phenomena. We therefore suggest that micro- and nano-dosimetric aspects must be taken into account.
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