On the morning of August 13, the Institute of High Energy Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences held a press conference in the spallation neutron source Park of Songshan Lake Science City, announcing that the Dongguan branch of the Institute has successfully developed China's first self-developed accelerator-based boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) experimental device! This has also become the first industrialization project of China's spallation neutron source related technology in the two years since its completion.
The press conference was attended by Liu Wei, member of the Standing Committee of Dongguan Municipal Party Committee and Secretary of Songshan Lake Party Working Committee, academician Xia Jiawen, academician Wang Yifang, academician Chen Hesheng, academician Chai Zhifang, heads of relevant departments of Guangdong Province and Dongguan City, as well as other experimental device experts, review meeting experts and project team members.
Academician Chen Hesheng Introduced to Liu Wei the First BNCT Experimental Device Independently Developed by China
At present, BNCT has started the first round of cell experiments and animal experiments, which has made technical preparation for clinical trials later. The successful development of this device laid a technical foundation for the localization and industrialization of the medical BNCT treatment device in China and will bring technical innovation to the tumor treatment in China.
When "Neutron" meets "Boron"
BNCT is one of the most advanced approaches for cancer therapy in the world. During the treatment, a boron-containing drug is injected into the patient first. This drug has a strong affinity with cancer cells, and will quickly gather in cancer cells, which is equivalent to "marking" cancer cells. The drug is rarely distributed in other tissues.
After that, the patient was irradiated with neutrons for less than one hour. Generally, the whole treatment process only needs one irradiation. When the irradiated neutrons are captured by the boron in the cancer cells, they produce highly lethal alpha particles and lithium ions, which can accurately "kill" the cancer cells.
Academician Chen Hesheng Introduced BNCT Project
"Alpha particles and lithium ions have a very short range, only one cell in length, so they only" kill "cancer cells without damaging the surrounding tissues. BNCT is a very effective treatment for gliomas, melanoma and recurrent head and neck tumors. It also tries to treat liver cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and other organ tumors. According to Liang Tianjiao, deputy director of Dongguan branch of Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, BNCT has the characteristics of low cost and high efficiency. After treatment, patients can maintain a high quality of life. The treatment course is short and flexible, the treatment cost is low, and the economic burden of patients is light. With the development of a new generation of boron-containing drugs, the range of diseases suitable for BNCT treatment is further expanding.
Engineering Technology Research Center Provides Platform for Experiments
In March 2020, the world's first accelerator-based BNCT equipment and boron drugs were officially approved by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, and have begun to accept patients. This is the first time that boron neutron capture therapy has been put into clinical application in the world.
Industrialization of Neutron Scattering Technology
In the past, the intense neutron beam used in BNCT treatment was mainly produced by nuclear reactor. Different from the BNCT device based on nuclear reactor, the accelerator-based BNCT device, as a radiation device, can be used in hospitals located in densely populated areas. In the future, it can be expanded to the city and county level to achieve personalized and routine BNCT treatment in a wide range. It has broad application prospects and far-reaching development potential.
"Because the strong neutron source can only be found in large scientific research laboratories, BNCT has been developing slowly for decades. At present, there are only more than 1400 clinical trials of reactor-based BNCT in the world. But if accelerators can be applied to produce neutrons, it will be easy to promote it to the hospital. " Fu Shinian, deputy manager of China spallation neutron source project.
Experts Took Questions on the Development and Application of BNCT
In 2018, the Institute of High Energy Physics in Dongguan, Guangdong Province built the first spallation neutron source in China, which has unique advantages in accelerator and neutron technology. BNCT device is the first industrial project based on China's spallation neutron source related technology, which is of great significance for demonstration and driving the development of related industries of spallation neutron source, and Guangdong Province and Dongguan City have given strong support to it. This also fully proves that the design and construction of scientific apparatus will greatly promote the development of related industries and technological innovation in addition to basic research and application research.
"Spallation neutron source uses high-energy protons produced by accelerator to bombard heavy metal targets and produce neutrons, while BNCT accelerator has much lower energy and uses different target materials from spallation neutron source." According to Fu Shinian, "last December, the BNCT experimental device successfully hit the target and obtained the neutron beam for the first time, proving the high quality and high reliability of our equipment processing, manufacturing, installation and commissioning. After that, we gradually realized stable operation and continuous improvement of power. "
BNCT Experimental Device Research Center
On August 13, eight academicians and experts from the fields of radiation medicine, particle accelerator, neutron physics and technology, boron medicine and so on reviewed the BNCT experimental device developed by Dongguan branch of Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. They believed that the successful development of the device is another major achievement in the development of high-end medical equipment for cancer treatment in China. The device was designed and built independently, and mastered all the core technologies, which laid a solid technical foundation for the next construction of clinical BNCT treatment device, and significantly improved China's international competitiveness in this field.
Clinical Trials are Expected Soon
At present, researchers are using this experimental device to carry out experimental research on BNCT related core technology and optimize the comprehensive performance of the device. They plan to carry out large-scale research on BNCT indications through cell and animal experiments, so as to provide corresponding experimental environment for the research and development of new generation boron drugs and animal experiments. At the same time, they will conduct animal safety verification to lay the foundation for later clinical trials.
Based on the successful development of this BNCT experimental device, the Institute of High Energy Physics has cooperated with Dongguan People's hospital to carry out the design and development of the second BNCT clinical equipment, which is expected to enter clinical trials soon and carry out clinical treatment step by step according to the regulations.
Speech by Chen Yanwei, Deputy Director of the Institute of High Energy Physics
Chen Yanwei, deputy director of the Institute of High Energy Physics, said that Japan, the United States and many other developed countries are actively promoting the development of BNCT technology. BNCT can not only help China's large-scale medical equipment secure a place in the world, but also benefit the whole society. It also facilitates the implementation of Healthy China Initiative and usher in a new era of cancer treatment.
Songshan Lake will Continue to Provide All-round Support
"We hope that the BNCT experimental device can be industrialized as soon as possible, and finally benefit humanity." At the press conference, Liu Wei, member of the Standing Committee of the Municipal Party Committee and Secretary of the Songshan Lake Party Working Committee, said that the successful development of the BNCT experimental device is an important embodiment of the development of the spallation neutron source supporting industry.
Liu Wei said that at present, Dongguan is stepping up the construction of Songshan Lake Science City, and the building of City University of Hong Kong (Dongguan) is on the way. In the future, Dongguan plans to establish a "Greater Bay Area University" and build a comprehensive national scientific center pilot area of "University + Research Institute + New R&D Institutions + Scientific Apparatus + National Laboratory".
Next, Dongguan and Songshan Lake will vigorously support the construction of phase II of the spallation neutron source and continue to increase investment in scientific and technological innovation. Taking Songshan Lake Science City as the core, they would optimize the innovative layout, provide high-quality services, and provide all-round support for the optimal effect of large scientific facilities such as spallation neutron source.
China Spallation Neutron SourceAchievedRapid Development
As the first scientific apparatus built in Songshan Lake Science City, China spallation neutron source has achieved extraordinary development in terms of construction, commissioning and industrial application since it passed the national acceptance in August 2018.
The spallation neutron source system is complex. Based on foreign experience, it will take about three years to debug after its completion, so that the proton accelerator can reach a beam supply efficiency of about 90%. However, the spallation neutron source in China only took 10 months to reach the same efficiency. The neutron beam supply efficiency of the target station is better than 99.6%, far exceeding the expectation. On February 28 this year, the target beam power of the device reached the design index of 100kW, one and a half years ahead of the original plan.
Accelerator in BNCT Device
In this context, the relevant research results are also emerging rapidly. At present, China spallation neutron source has completed more than 200 user projects, of which about one third are from Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and about 10% of the users are from Hong Kong and Macao. In addition, more than 30 user experiment results papers have been published, most of which are published in top-class international journals in the field.
Some foreign users commented: "the operation time of China spallation neutron source is very short, but the quality and reliability of data are no less than those of similar devices in Britain which have been improved for more than 30 years."
The accelerator-based boron neutron capture therapy experimental device made a breakthrough, becoming the first industrial project promoted by China's spallation neutron source technology. Based on the spallation neutron source, Dongguan is planning to build the Songshan Lake Science City to fully stimulate the driving effect of scientific apparatus. In the future, it will play a more important role in supporting the industrial development of Dongguan and the broader Greater Bay Area.
What the Academicians said
At today's event, four academicians attended the press conference to interpret the successful development of BNCT experimental device. This "luxury lineup" highlights the special significance of the project.
Academician Xia Jiawen: This is a major achievement in the development of diagnosis and treatment technology of high-end medical equipment for cancer treatment in China. The whole device is designed and built independently with all the core technologies, laying a solid technical foundation for the subsequent construction of clinical BNCT treatment device, significantly improving China's international competitiveness in this field, and laying a solid foundation for China to extend the frontier research. We hope to further promote the debugging work, realize open and stable operation, and provide the necessary neutron beam and experimental conditions for the domestic research institutions.
Academician Wang Yifang: This is not only the "Gospel" of cancer patients, but also the great achievement of the construction of large-scale scientific devices. The first BNCT experimental device with independent intellectual property rights developed by the Institute of High Energy Physics breaks the technological monopoly of developed countries and helps us gain a foothold in the world's large-scale medical equipment. As a national scientific research institution, the Institute of High Energy Physics has the obligation to promote the transfer of scientific and technological achievements, promote the development of domestic radiotherapy, reduce medical costs, serve national health, and achieve the grand goal of scientific research serving national strategic development and rejuvenating the country through science and technology. In the next step, we will be based on the national needs, make sold efforts to accelerate the research and development of BNCT technology and clinical popularization, and strive to usher in a new era of cancer treatment.
Academician Chen Hesheng: BNCT can achieve precise treatment on the cell scale, which is suitable for cancers with invasion, spread, metastasis, etc. It is considered to be the best treatment method for glioma and melanoma. Compared with other particle therapy devices, BNCT has the advantages of small volume, low cost, simple operation, outstanding therapeutic effect, and low side effects, which can improve the comfort level of patients. The device has completely independent intellectual property rights and is internationally leading in accelerator technology.
Academician Chai Zhifang: In the past, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area was relatively backward in the layout of scientific apparatus. The construction and application of China's spallation neutron source has changed this situation and it is a rare opportunity to build a comprehensive national science center. However, we should pay attention to the overall layout. Under the general national plan, different regions should complement each other and focus on their own. It is hoped that the region can continue to achieve better development in the future.