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Facility for Neutron Capture Therapy


Medical Facility for Neutron Capture Therapy Based on Compact Tandem Accelerator

Tech Area / Field

  • PHY-PFA/Particles, Fields and Accelerator Physics/Physics
  • MED-RAD/Radiomedicine/Medicine
  • BIO-RAD/Radiobiology/Biotechnology

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Tocheny L V

Leading Institute
Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics, Russia, Novosibirsk reg., Akademgorodok

Supporting institutes

  • VNIITF, Russia, Chelyabinsk reg., Snezhinsk\nMedical Radiological Scientific Center, Russia, Kaluga reg., Obninsk\nA.I. Burnazyan Federal Medical and Biophysical Center, Russia, Moscow


  • Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe in der Helmholts-Gemeinschaft, Germany, Karlsruhe

Project summary

The purpose of the project is preparation of the technical task for the development of the medical installation for the neutron capture therapy of malignant new formations. The novel ideas of the proton accelerator and near-threshold generation of neutrons will enable creation of a compact and inexpensive facility capable to be located in oncological clinics without special requirements to radiation safety. Realization of the project envisages creation of pilot source of epithermal neutrons on the base of tandem accelerator where all the ideas and solutions put into the base of the project will be experimentally tested.

The concept of neutron capture therapy of cancer is simple and elegant. The solution containing a stable isotope Boron-10 is introduced into the human’s blood and in some time, the boron is absorbed mainly in the tumor cells. Then the tumor is irradiated by the flux of epithermal neutrons. As a result of absorption of a neutron by the stable isotope 10Â, the nuclear reaction occurs and the energetic α-particle and 7Li ion are quickly decelerated at the length of the cell size and emit the energy of ~2.3 MeV within the limits of the cell, which contains the Boron nucleus, thus leading to its affection. Thus, the boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) enables realization of the selective affection of malignant tumor cells.

Development of the neutron capture therapy is reasonable since it is directed to curing such kinds of malignant tumors, which are not practically cured by any other method – brain glioblastoma and melanoma metastases.

The progress achieved in the clinic tests of boron-capture therapy at reactors and the potential demand of the method led to intense discussions of the development and production of the neutron source based on the compact and inexpensive accelerator, which can be used practically in every oncological clinic. The novel approach that we suggested was based on the use of the electrostatic tandem accelerator with vacuum insulation and near-threshold regime of neutron generation. The proposed tandem-accelerator provides high rate of acceleration and enables one to get a powerful stationary proton beam with high energy stability in a compact system. When hitting the lithium target by the proton beam, neutrons are generated as a result of the near-threshold reaction 7Li(p,n)7Be. The most attractive novel regime of neutron generation is realized at the proton energy of 1.915 MeV that is by 33 keV higher than the reaction threshold. In this case, the kinematically collimated forward bream of neutrons with the mean energy of 40 keV can be used for BNCT after a slight deceleration. In the second regime at an energy of protons 2.5 MeV, the generated neutrons have more complex and wider spectra up to an energy of 790 keV, and for the therapy it is necessary to use a system of moderator, collimators, and reflectors. An intrinsic feature of the whole project is obtaining the powerful proton beam providing the time of therapy in tens of minutes.

Within the frames of realization of the ISTC projects # 1484 and # 2569, after carrying out a number of experiments, we prepared first the conceptual project of the accelerator based source of neutrons for the neutron capture therapy and then, at the constructed pilot sample of the tandem accelerator we had demonstrated a feasibility of producing such compact and rather inexpensive accelerators acceptable for location in oncological centers. In this direction, natural continuation of the work is obtaining the therapeutical beam of epithermal neutrons at the accelerator. To this end, it is necessary to develop and produce the target with the moderator and local protection and provide stable and long term operation of the facility.

Another group of Russian researchers in parallel within the frame of ISTC Project # 1951 had created the first in Russia experimental base for NCT based on the pre-clinic examinations carried out at the reactor of the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute.

Within the frame of ISTC project #2145, the third group of Russian researchers had adapted the SERA planning system of curing for the Snezhinsk Center of Neutron Therapy.

A combination of efforts of all these groups of Russian researchers will enable elaboration of the technical task for the compact medical facility for the neutron capture therapy on the base of the electrostatic tandem accelerator and prepare recommendations on its clinic applications.

Expected results. In the course of the project:

  • The demonstration source of neutrons will be produced and the epithermal neutron beam generation will be achieved;
  • Certification of the neutron source will be done;
  • Modeling of radiation fields will be done aimed at optimizing the local protection and reducing requirements to the radiation protection hall;
  • The procedure of utilization of the activated target will be determined;
  • Curing scheme and recommendations on the clinic use of the neutron capture therapy at the proposed accelerator source of neutrons will be proposed;
  • A feasibility of producing the ion source with substantially higher current and more compact high voltage rectifier will be studied experimentally.

As a result, the technical task will be prepared for manufacture of the compact medical facility for the neutron-capture therapy on the base of the electrostatic tandem-accelerator, proposals both on its production and its clinical use will be suggested.


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