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Boron neutron captures therapy (BNCT)


Specific Objectives

The 4 main objectives are:

- To develop, improve and maintain the BNCT facility at the HFR;
- To support the present clinical trial and future trials;
- To improve and validate treatment planning techniques;
- To further improve BNCT through research and development.

With respect to the latter, the research objectives in 2002 are:
- neutron beam improvement and design;
-application to different types of tumours;
- application to non-cancerous diseases; development of patient positioning devices;
- improvement of dosimetry;
- investigation of boron detection techniques (MRI/PET);
- development of microdosimetry, e.g. for treatment planning.
Planned Deliverables

specific deliverables to DGs

- Report and demonstration of improved use of informatics in medicine (INFSO) as a result of the research
- Successful performance of innovative clinical trials for cancer
- Standardisation in BNCT.

Summary of deliverables made by: 31/12/2001
- extension of the BNCT facilities to accommodate a workshop and storage room;
- connection to the internet, allowing direct access to outside hospitals;
- renovation of the (ageing) observation and irradiation room areas;
- improvement and re-writing of the Standard Operating Procedures;
- continued clinical trials (assistance to medical groups during patient treatment);
- implementation of new treatment planning software package (SERA);
- implementation (within the BEPRO SCA) of new patient conversion, transfer and storage routines;
- development of a patient and historical calculation database on new mass storage units (RAID system)
- completion of a set of calculations to validate and comprehend complex treatment planning procedures in BNCT
- start of a QA/QC system for treatment planning following medical guidelines;
- start on the design and construction of a new treatment table;
- further measurements and calculations in the Code of Practice SCA
- investigations into boron imaging using NMR and PET techniques (and their implementation into treatment planning routines);
- start of simulations and measurements in microdosimetry project (cell irradiations).

Output Indicators and Impact (long term results)
- To support cancer research policies in health (FP6);
-Completion of the current BNCT trial;
- Re-defined BNCT objectives in-line with FP6 proposal on cancer research supported via DG SANCO;
- Conclusions on the use and suitability of BNCT at the HFR and, in general, on the use of research reactors for BNCT worldwide;
- To support informatics in health policies.

- Patient image data handling package (joint development IE /University of Grenoble) completed
- New imaging techniques, such as PET, for treatment planning implemented at HFR;
- Simultaneous access by other centres (hospitals) throughout Europe to the same patient data;
- Provision of relevant input to further policy support, potentially leading to opening up of new FP6 QoL programme lines.

To develop Networks of Excellence

- Start-up and first meeting (kick-off) of a BNCT network, initially as part of the Radiotherapy arm of EMIR.

To support the Enlargement action

- Funding via the NAS initiative acquired
- Participation of more enlargement countries in BNCT actions at IE.

- networking with E. European hospitals for patient recruitment.

Intensifying dialogue with US partners

- Completion of the preparatory phase for 2 new clinical trials, leading to the start of the trials during 2002, with collaboration between EU and US partners;
- Improvement of QA procedures for BNCT at Petten in collaboration with the Harvard/MIT group;
- Improved Quality control for BNCT and enhanced worldwide acceptance of BNCT.

Technology transfer - Dissemination

- Preparation and execution of Tenth (bi-ennial) International Congress on NCT, with IE prominence as Secretary-General of the Congress and presentation of minimum 4 papers;
- Report to International Society for NCT of measurements on BNCT using new Phantom apparatus on each of the topics of beam dosimetry, patient positioning, and boron measurements.

- World-wide contacts for more BNCT collaboration and consultancy work
- Higher profile of IE in the field of BNCT dosimetry;
- European Code of Practice for BNCT;
- contribution to standardisation in BNCT.
Summary of the project

BNCT (Boron NEUTRON Capture Therapy) has the ultimate goal to treat cancer patients suffering from many forms of cancer, in particular brain tumours. It is still regarded as a novel form of radiotherapy, which currently can only be performed at nuclear research reactors, such as the HFR. BNCT is based on the ability of the isotope 10B to capture thermal neutrons to produce two highly energetic particles, e.g. a helium (Ą particle) and lithium ion, which when produced selectively in tumour cells, can in principle destroy each cancer cell, thus opening an effective new modality for cancer treatment.

Within the Institutional Programme, progress in the areas of dosimetry, treatment planning, patient image data transfer, and networking is going smoothly. Throughout the year 2001, IE BNCT staff members were invited, made and wrote many presentations for conferences and meetings, hosted in Petten numerous BNCT scientists and clinicians from around the world, and continued to develop and improve the Quality Assurance systems for BNCT.


The application of nuclear technology for medicine, which was suggested some 10 years ago, as a tool to promote the use of radiation research for the health of the European citizen, is no more exemplified than with BNCT at the High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten. After many years of pre-clinical research and development, cancer (glioblastoma) patients are being treated in a Phase I study at the HFR BNCT facility, with new trials planned to start in 2002. The expertise and in-house know-how on BNCT developed within IE is second to none throughout the world.

Funding Scheme

JRC - Joint Research Centre research


Institute for Energy