In the seminar of March 28th at 15:00 CET Lorenzo Manti deliveres an interesting talk on “The proton-boron fusion reaction as a means to improve protontherapy effectiveness: radiobiological rationale, current status and future developments”.

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The use of conventionally accelerated proton beams represents an advanced and fast-growing modality in precision radiation oncology thanks to their physical properties, which grant much improved dose sparing to normal tissues compared to photon-based radiotherapy. Protontherapy, however, lacks biological effectiveness against radioresistant tumours because at clinical energies (~ 200 MeV) protons damage cancer cells mainly by causing isolated DNA strand breaks, which can be readily repaired. In recent years, an approach exploiting the proton-boron (p-B) fusion reaction, hence termed Proton-Boron Capture Therapy (PBCT), has been proposed and successfully verified in vitro to enhance cancer cell killing by therapeutic proton beams as shown by work carried out at INFN-LNS in Catania and at CNAO (Centro Nazionale di Adroterapia Oncologica) in Pavia, Italy.

Specifically, as the p-B reaction cross section peaks for low-energy protons, cell killing and DNA damage were significantly augmented by the presence of boron carriers only along the Spread-Out Bragg Peak, where protons are slowing down and the tumour would lie, but not at the entrance where high-energy protons would traverse normal tissues. In fact, data point to the densely ionizing a-particles generated by the p-B reaction as being responsible for the observed biological effects, in line with the notion that the highly clustered complex DNA damage known to be induced by such particles is unlikely to be faithfully resolved by the intracellular repair mechanisms.

This seminar will therefore illustrate in detail the radiobiological rationale behind PBCT, providing an updated overview of the main results obtained thus far. Finally, the use of extremely ultra-high dose rates (~ 109 Gy/s) from laser-based acceleration to trigger the p-B reaction will be briefly discussed: coupling the increased cancer lethality apparently afforded by PBCT with the further decrease in normal-tissue toxicity reported at such dose delivery temporal regimes (the FLASH phenomenon), may result in an unprecedented widening of the therapeutic window for protontherapy.


Short CV:

HB11 S2.5 photo Lorenzo MantiLorenzo Manti is Associate Professor in Applied Physics at the Physics Department, University of Naples Federico II, Italy, where he graduated in Physics to then move to the UK where he was awarded an MSc and a PhD, both in in experimental radiobiology. He has thereafter continued working in this field upon returning to his alma mater, with a focus on the biological effects of charged particle beams as used in hadrontherapy. Other research interests include radiosensitizing and radioprotecting strategies based on natural compounds and biomedical use of vibrational techniques. Recently, he has been working on the medical applications of the proton-boron capture reactions.  He has been President of the European Radiation Research Society and is currently President of the Italian Radiation Research Society. As part of his academic duties, he has supervised almost 90 BSc and MSc students and tutored several PhD students. He is author of 87 peer-reviewed papers.