Protons against cancer: new Russian discovery

Print 04 August 2017
Marchmont Innovation News

Russian scientists have successfully completed a series of experiments aimed at fighting cancer with proton beams. 

A team led by Svetlana Zaichkina of the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics in Pushchino outside Moscow reportedly experimented with mice that had various cancers. The animals were exposed to proton radiation with a varying number of sessions, duration per session, and beam power. The experiments resulted in tangible improvements in the mice’s health, with their tumor growth slowing down by a quite noticeable five to six times. Targeted proton therapy aimed only at the tumors proved the best: more that 80% of the mice treated like that are reported to have had their primary cancers conquered. 

That said, however, the experimenters reportedly failed to avoid setbacks. About 60% of what they had thought to be successful mice cases eventually developed new tumors. Nonetheless, the mice that had received targeted proton treatment lived three months longer than their congeners, while the animals that suffered no relapse lived as long as two years, the typical average life expectancy for healthy mice. 

That led the experimenters to the conclusion that proton therapy is more effective and safer that conventional radiotherapy, especially if used targetedly on tumors exclusively. With the kind of efficacy, treatment could be limited to just a few proton radiation sessions, if not only one. That would help lower the cost of therapy and save the lives of patients with brain tumors and other cancers currently deemed inoperable.

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