Chinese nuclear physicists have developed a new treatment for cancer that uses heavy ion beams to kill malignant tumours more than 2.1 cm below the skin's surface.
Zhan Wenlong, the leading nuclear physicist in the country, has claimed that heavy ion beams score over light ion beams, such as gamma rays and X-rays used in traditional radiotherapies.
High ion beams can accurately moderate the amount of radiation and minimize the damage done to healthy cells, reports China Daily.
He further said that the new treatment uses stronger heavy ion beams that reach a maximum of 400 mega electron volts (MeV), and can travel further into the human body to kill deeper tumours.
One of the key roles in generating the beams has been played by the 'Cooler Storage Ring', which is a 300 million yuan project by the Heavy Ion Research Facility (HIRF) in Lanzhou, the capital of the northwestern Gansu province.
Zhan said that the amount of ions in heavy ion beam treatment sky rocket when they get to the deep tumors, and become strong enough to kill tumor cells and better protect healthy cells along the way.
On the contrary, in traditional light ion beam treatment, the amount of ions diminishes the further it travels,
The researchers at the Institute of Modern Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have produced a broad spectrum of heavy ion beams, which range from 80 to 400 MeV and can treat both shallow and deep-seated tumors.
Zhan also said that scientists are now optimizing the system software to open new doors for massive clinical testing in the near future.
According to HIRF Director Yue Haikui, the method had been used on 85 cancer patients by the end of 2006, with satisfactory results.
The researchers will continue monitoring the patients to probe the effect of the treatment.