An Israeli company has announced that it has created a technology that will destroy cancerous tumors.
As The Times Of Israel reports, Alpha Tau Medical has a new treatment called Diffusing Alpha-emitters Radiation Therapy (DaRT). To circumvent the problem of how to prevent alpha particles that kill cancer cells from decaying rapidly, Alpha Tau initiated a method of placing the alpha particles inside a needle containing radium-224, a radioactive isotope. Once the needle is inserted into the tumor, it takes the radium four days to vanish, but during that period the radium transmits “daughter atoms” that spit out alpha particles that rupture the DNA of the cancer cells.
CEO Uzi Sofer told The Times of Israel, “This is the first time in the world that you can treat solid tumors,” with alpha radiation. He asserted that the treatment can be given anywhere; there is no need for a hospital setting, concluding, “It is like going to the dentist.” The whole procedure can take between 30 minutes and two hours.
Sofer explained that specific applicators created by his company permit six needles or “darts” to be injected simultaneously. Once inserted, the darts remain in the patient’s skin for at least two weeks; Sofer added that if the cancer is found in an internal organ, the darts can remain permanently as they are biocompatible. Sara Jaehnert, marketing and communication manager, added that during clinical trials, no side effects were observed. She said, “Cancer cells know how to ‘hide’ from the immune system,” but “tumor ablation can cause the formation of tumor-specific antigens that can then be recognized by the immune system.”
Alpha Tau reported after a trial was conducted in Tel Aviv:
Treatment was delivered based on a CT-simulation pre-treatment plan. The seeds (1 cm long and 0.7 mm in diameter) each carrying a dose of 2 μCi were placed 5-6 millimeters from each other. CT was used to check the position of the radioactive seeds. Two to four weeks after implantation the seeds were removed, and six weeks after treatment CT was performed to assess the effect of treatment. Study results are available for 15 subjects who reached the 30-day visit. The age of the patients ranged between 66 to 94 (median 81). Six patients had oral cavity SCC and nine diagnosed with aggressive skin SCC. Eleven patients were treated within radiation failure fields (Radiation dosage >60 Gy). All tumors responded to the treatment; Eleven tumors had a complete response and four tumors showed a partial response.
Sofer cited a woman who had undergone the treatment at Romagna’s Scientific Institute for the Study and Cure of Cancers (IRST) in Italy. Sofer reported that the woman had a recurrent tumor in her right leg but it vanished after she was treated for a month. The Times of Israel writes, “The best news, however, was that the two lesions of the left leg that the doctors planned to treat 30 days later disappeared because of an abscopal effect – a rare phenomenon that occurs when treating a tumor leads to the withdrawal or disappearance of other metastases present in the body.”
Alpha Tau Medical started clinical trials on humans in February-March 2017.
Sofer stated, “Right now, we have evidence for squamous cell carcinoma and we have 12 protocols that we are developing all around the world to treat patients with different solid tumors.” Additional trials are set for patients with pancreas, breast, kidney, vulva or prostate tumors.
Of 27 patients treated for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head, neck, and skin, 73% had their tumors disappear, according to Sofer.
Sofer concluded, “We pray and believe that by next year we will have the first approval in Europe and then we’ll have approval in the U.S. and Japan, with a very clear roadmap for each country … We feel that it is really breakthrough and game-changing in the field of oncology. We are really seeing a miracle.”