Posted on Dec 19, 2018, 12 a.m.
An Israeli company claims to have developed a new technology that can destroy solid cancerous tumors using Diffusing Alpha-emitters Radiation Therapy as a minimally invasive procedure that reportedly leaves healthy tissue unharmed.
DaRT uses a needle to inject tumors with radioactive seeds that release high energy doses of radiation that destroys the tumor leaving healthy surrounding tissues unharmed, in a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed using local anesthesia in about two hours, according to Alpha Tau Medical’s CEO Uzi Sofer.
The radioactive seeds are inserted into the tumor where they must remain for at least two weeks, in the process of decay Radium-224 releases short lived Alpha-emitting atoms into the tumor; by diffusion and convection these atoms disperse to therapeutically significant ranges of several millimeters to deliver a high dose of radiation inside the tumor.
The darts are biocompatible and can remain inside an internal organ forever, according to the CEO, who reports having evidence for squamous cell carcinoma, and 12 protocols that are being developed to treat patients with different forms of solid tumors. During clinical trial no side effects were observed, and any non-severe side effects were resolved within 1-2 months according to spokesperson Sara Jaehnert.
This type of radioactive material hasn’t been used before as although they are lethal to cancerous cells they have a short half life, meaning the particles had been unsuitable for cancer treatment. According to the CEO after the system is used the body then learns what to find and what to destroy.
Human clinical trials began in 2017, DaRT was first tested on more than 6,000 model animals. Currently there are 2 clinical trials being conducted in Italy and Israel for squamous cell carcinoma of the neck, head, and skin. Preliminary results are reported to be better than expected, with all of the participants responding to treatment, and tumors disappearing in 73%.
The company claims the treatment teaches the immune system to recognize and destroy unhealthy cells such as cancer cells that seem to hide from it. Their process of tumor ablation can cause formation of tumor specific antigens that can then be recognized by the immune system.
The CEO is hopeful that by next year they will have the first approval for their technology in Europe, then the USA, and Japan which will clear the way for approvals worldwide.
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