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IAEA, Okayama University Agree to Cooperate on Promising Cancer Therapy

Okayama, Japan

A treatment room of the BNCT facility at a hospital in Japan. (Photo: J.A. Osso/IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Japan's Okayama University today signed an agreement to cooperate in developing Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT), a form of radiotherapy for cancer.

Under the three-year Practical Arrangements, IAEA and Okayama University will jointly support research, education, capacity-building and human resource development related to BNCT. They will also share experiences and good practices in BNCT, which is currently in clinical trials and is showing promise for treatment of skin, neck and salivary gland cancers.

Okayama University is a front runner in the development of the boron agent that forms a key component of BNCT. The university in western Japan also works with other Japanese universities and institutions that have developed accelerators to provide the radiation needed for the therapy.

BNCT involves targeting cancer cells with the boron agent that, after being irradiated by a neutron beam, will generate radiation within the affected cells to kill them. Because this reaction occurs only in cells with the boron agent, fewer healthy cells are damaged compared to other forms of radiotherapy.

"Recent advances in research and clinical applications highlighted the potential of BNCT, and the cooperation we begin today enables further work to develop the therapy as a treatment option for specific cancers," said Meera Venkatesh, Director of the IAEA's Division of Physical and Chemical Sciences.

The IAEA promotes applications of radiation and nuclear technologies for peaceful uses in a wide range of areas, including human health. The Agency helps countries to ensure optimized delivery of radiotherapy and to use advanced cancer treatment technologies effectively.

Okayama University President Kiyoshi Morita said that cooperating with the IAEA would enable the university to "move our studies on BNCT forward and contribute to related higher education and human resources development around the world."

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