In an experiment at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), located near Geneva, the scientists have demonstrated that a beam of antiprotons can destroy cancer cells considerably more effectively than the types of radiation used to date. In the long term, this can lead to a more effective and more gentle treatment for certain tumours.
The results have just been published in the renowned journal Radiotherapy and Oncology.
The mysterious antiparticles have been common knowledge for decades, but the scientists are the first to show the advantage of using antiprotons to destroy cancer cells. The new technique using antiparticles has a number of benefits:
A comparison of damage to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumour shows that antiproton beams destroy cancer cells much more effectively than the beams used to date. This is because the antiprotons have an effect that slightly resembles grenades. They cause most damage to the patient’s cells right at the target point – just as a grenade only explodes when it gets to the end of its trajectory.Each individual patient therefore requires significantly fewer treatments.
An added advantage of antiproton treatment is that it makes it possible to continuously monitor exactly where the irradiation takes place.
Unfortunately, the promising results will first benefit the treatment system in ten years at the earliest. This is partly because producing antiprotons is expensive and requires setting up large, new accelerators specially designed for the purpose. Secondly, a long list of new measurements are required before clinical tests can begin. However, the important point is that the scientists have now proved the significant, positive effect of antiproton irradiation.
This new knowledge itself is an important radiobiological result because the scientists are the first to demonstrate the biological effect of antiprotons. The new knowledge can therefore be used immediately to increase our understanding of how antiparticle beams inactivate cancer cells. As far as the scientists are concerned, the basic scientific insight they have acquired into the biological effect of antiprotons is a major victory in itself, and one that paves the way towards much more cross-disciplinary research. The composition of the research team illustrates the importance placed on interdisciplinary collaboration, as it involves physicists, hospital physicists, doctors, microbiologists and other experts. In addition to the Danish scientists, the team consists of experts from the USA, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands and other countries.
The project is funded by the Danish Cancer Society and the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation.
Antiprotons do not belong to our worldAn antiproton is a so-called antiparticle. It is thus part of the mirror world that also consists of the positron – the electron’s antiparticle – as well as other exotic particles. A common feature of them all is that they are not normally found in our world. However, antiprotons are produced in large accelerators at CERN, and have been used there to destroy cancer cells.
The special feature of antiprotons is that their speed can be adjusted so they penetrate the tumour without intruding any further into the patient, and thus cause no further tissue damage. The antiprotons find a normal proton inside the tumour, and this pair is converted to energy and other particles – some of which destroy cancer cells – in a disintegration process.
Dan Frederiksen | alfa
Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences