Diagnosis & Treatment
General Oncology

Radiation therapy in Israel: Alpha DaRT defeats cancer

Radiation therapy in Israel: Alpha DaRT defeats cancer

Scientists from Tel Aviv University presented a fundamentally new type of radiotherapy in Israel called Alpha DaRT (Diffusion Alpha-emitters Radiation Therapy), which can destroy solid tumors in a couple of days.

Alpha DaRT is a project of the local high-tech company Alpha Tau Medical.

Having recently collected $ 29 million to finance researches, this successful startup has already entered into an agreement with the NRC and paved the way for the future clinical trials on new technology in the United States.

Invented by Professor Itzhak Kelson and his colleagues from TAU, Diffusion Alpha-emitters Radiation Therapy significantly expands current opportunities of treating solid tumors.

Alpha DaRT is based on the release of protons (high-active charged particles) during the alpha decay of radioactive materials.

The technology is suitable for pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, as well as against head and neck tumors, and some gynecological cancers.

New therapy works inside the tumor, delivering large doses directly to the target and preserving the surrounding healthy tissues. The results of latest clinical trials indicate that Alpha DaRT successfully treat squamous cell tumors.

It's incredible, but in 70% of cases, few days are enough.

According to CEO of Alpha Tau Medical, the geography of unique therapy is rapidly expanding. Positive results have been achieved in Israel and Europe, and the promising technology will soon be available in the United States. This brings the victory over cancer much closer.

Alpha Tau Medical and future radiotherapy in Israel

Alpha Tau Medical is a young startup created 2 years ago for commercialization of Alpha DaRT therapy. The company is built around a unique concept, proposed by Tel Aviv University physicist Itzhak Kelson and scientists from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

This technology is based on high-precision delivery of alpha particles right into the tumor, destabilizing cancer DNA.

Oncologists say: to destroy one malignant cell, several direct hits on the nucleus are enough. Unfortunately, alpha particles have low "firing range" – just a few millimeters. This limits the use of lethal weapon in radiation oncology.

Diffusion Alpha-emitters Radiation Therapy works much better than traditional options. Moreover, a short range of action makes the irradiation conformal, that is, limited only by tumor tissue. During the procedure, surgeon injects the seeds of radium-224 into the tumor. This is a very unstable isotope that release alpha particles, radon, polonium and lead.

Radium-224 and its short-lived “descendants” are neutralized in the patient's body in a couple of days. After extraction of radium seeds, there is no potentially harmful radiation left.

The advantages of the new radiotherapy are obvious:

• targeted dose
• clinically proven effectiveness
• convenience of injecting radioactive seeds
• reliability regardless of tumor oxygen levels
• minimal risk for patient and caregiver
• one simple procedure

The first results of therapy are observed after 2-3 days, and after 2 weeks the seeds are removed from the body. During this time, they manage to deliver 95% of the radiation dose. Alpha Tau Medical continuously improves the material and delivery methods, providing surgeons with very convenient applicators for minimally invasive procedures.

Now Israeli company is expanding its facilities in Boston (USA) for carrying out relevant clinical trials with local partners.

Radiation therapy in Israel: prices, types, and indications

Radiotherapy remains one of the main treatment options for solid tumors and blood cancer. External beam therapy and brachytherapy are based on the destruction of rapidly dividing cells by high energy beams or accelerated particles.

These days, cancer radiation therapy is computerized; therefore it requires perfect and expensive equipment. Carrying out of treatment and calculation of a dose is assigned to highly skilled doctors – radiation oncologists.

Exactly like in Israel.

Types of radiotherapy

All major Israeli cancer clinics provide such technologies as IMRT, IGRT, VMAT, SRS (“gamma-knife”), brachytherapy, etc.

The cost of treatment starts from $ 8000 depending on many factors.

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) uses radiation source located outside the body. In this case, high energy beams penetrate the skin and healthy tissues from different sides, concentrating on the tumor. This process is completely controlled by smart computer that targets cancer and monitors the position of the body.

Alpha Tau Medical and future radiotherapy in Israel

EBRT is recommended for most types of solid tumors.

Internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy) is the delivery of radioactive material directly to the tumor. It can be either solid seed or even liquid material. Implantation of the source is usually requiring minimally invasive procedure (surgery).

Diffusion Alpha-emitters Radiation Therapy is one of the advanced types of internal radiotherapy. Brachytherapy can be useful in breast prostate, thyroid gland, eyes, head and neck cancers.

Why do we need radiotherapy?

Radiation therapy performs many different tasks:

• Treatment of inoperable tumors
• Tumor size reduction before surgery
• Prevention of cancer recurrence
• Palliative treatment

It can completely destroy a timely detected cancer, or it can just add some years of life. It is used with chemo, surgery and other methods. Sometimes radiation therapy in Israel is prescribed to prevent metastases. For example, oncologists recommend prophylactic cranial irradiation in lung cancer to prevent cancer from entering the CNS.

In the past decades, radiotherapy had many serious side effects, but the Alpha DaRT inventors try to make the treatment safe.

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