The technique, microbeam radiation therapy (MRT), previously used a high-intensity synchrotron x-ray source such as a superconducting wiggler at Brookhaven's National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) to produce parallel arrays of very thin (25 to 90 micrometers) planar x-ray beams (picture the parallel panels of window blinds in the open position) instead of the unsegmented (solid), broad beams used in conventional radiation treatment. Previous studies conducted at Brookhaven and at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France demonstrated MRT's ability to control malignant tumors in animals with high radiation doses while subjecting adjacent normal tissue to little collateral damage.
But the technique has limitations. For one thing, only certain synchrotrons can generate its very thin beams at adequate intensity, and such facilities are available at only a few research centers around the world.
"The new development seeks a way out of this situation," explained Brookhaven scientist Avraham Dilmanian, lead author of the new study. In this paper, the scientists report results that demonstrate the potential efficacy of significantly thicker microbeams, as well as a way to "interlace" the beams within a well-defined "target" inside the subject to increase their killing potential there, while retaining the technique's hallmark feature of sparing healthy tissue outside that
Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory