NANJING, June 18 (Xinhua) -- China's first accelerator-based boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) equipment is expected to be used for radiation treatment in 2019, its developers said.
The equipment was jointly developed by Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and several companies. It is currently in the test phase.
BNCT is a targeted radiation cancer therapy in which neutron beams destroy only the boron compound-bearing tumor without causing radiation damage to the neighboring normal tissue. It is less traumatic than current treatments and has fewer side effects.
"The biggest challenge in the development and application of BNCT is the neutron source," said Liu Yuanhao, a nuclear science and engineering professor at the university.
Liu said that neutrons can be produced either through a reactor or an accelerator. But due to high costs and safety issues, it is difficult to build reactors in hospitals, while "using an accelerator is cheaper, safer and the neutron beams are easily controlled."
Currently, countries such as Japan, Finland, Italy, Russia, and the United States are the front runners in the clinical studies of BNCT and they have achieved progress in treating head and neck cancers, he added.