Promising results from an experimental cancer treatment using radiation has prompted Idaho National Engineering Laboratory officials to seek $8.5 million for modification of an idle nuclear reactor at their site.
The Boron Neutron Capture Therapy program would use a mothballed reactor at INEL to treat a rare form of brain cancer. Researchers were also expanding the scope of the proj-ect to include tumors in organs like the lungs and liver."As far as the research results we're getting, if I were to grade them on a scale of 0-100, I'd say all the results are much greater than 50," program manager J.G. Crocker. "All of our results are on the positive side. I can't claim any at 100 percent total success, but that's a utopian situation we won't likely ever get to."
In the treatment, a boron compound is injected into the bloodstream, eventually attaching itself to the tumor. The tumor is then bombarded with a neutron beam, which activates the boron to kill the tumor cells without harming healthy tissue.
Since undergoing a National Cancer Institute review early this year, the research has centered on focusing the neutron beam and analyzing the boron compound.
Researchers have been injecting dogs with brain tumors to determine the proper dosages prior to initial testing next month at at Brookhaven Medical Research Center in Long Island, N.Y.
Crocker said the Department of Energy will be asked to earmark $8.5 million to complete design work and begin modification of the Power Burst Facility, the INEL reactor that will be used to irradiate tumors. The department is expected to convene a peer review group this summer, and if the plan is endorsed, modifications could begin in October.
"That would allow us to have the facility ready in about two years," Crocker said.