Neutron Therapeutics’ Precision Cancer-Treatment Systems Entering Medical Centers 

Neutron Therapeutics’ nuBeam suite at Helsinki University Hospital in Finland 

Neutron Therapeutics, the brainchild of electromagnetic engineering entrepreneur Bill Buckley of New Zealand, is meeting with new success placing its equipment for ultra-precision treatment of cancer cells and for advanced neutron sources into hospitals and medical research environments. Its revolutionary nu-Beam systems are finding homes at Helsinki University Hospital and the University Hospital of Brussels while its latest high flux neutron source is being installed at the University of Birmingham where it become will be part of the UK’s National Nuclear User Facility. 

Neutron has been developing a comprehensive solution for Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT), a targeted radiation cancer therapy in which neutron beams destroy only boron compound-bearing tumors without destroying neighboring normal tissue. BNCT has the potential to deliver highly effective and cell-localized radiation therapy to treat tumors with minimal impact on the patient’s quality of life compared to other radiation, chemotherapy or biological treatment modalities currently in use. 

BNCT is an emerging, biologically-targeted form of radiotherapy that destroys tumor cells with minimal impact to surrounding healthy cells. It has the potential to revolutionize radiation oncology, having demonstrated compelling success in some of the most difficult-to-treat cancers and in treating patients for whom all other treatment options have been exhausted. 

Bill Buckley, co-founder and chairman of Neutron Therapeutics & founder of Buckley Systems 

Headquartered in Danvers, Massachusetts near Boston, Neutron was founded in 2015. Its chairman and co-founder, Buckley, is also founder of Buckley Systems Ltd. in New Zealand which has been a leader in producing advanced electromagnetic equipment for scientific and industrial use around the world. From concept to “first beam”, Buckley Systems provides end-to-end design, engineering and integration solutions for magnetic systems with an emphasis on its precision manufacturing capability. 

Buckley Systems in New Zealand is renowned for manufacturing precision electromagnets, from large spectrometer and analyser magnets weighing tens of tons to quadrupole magnets weighing less than a kilogram.  

Reportedly, he has devoted a significant portion of his wealth, estimated at more than $100 million, to help support Neutron as it applies his engineering vision to the development of precision systems for treating cancer and for medical research. 

Boron Neutron Capture Therapy is a unique type of radiation therapy that enables targeting of cancer at the cellular level. BNCT has been used to treat cancer with a non-invasive two-step process. First, patients are injected with a tumor-seeking drug containing a non-radioactive isotope (boron-10) with a high neutron capture cross-section. In the second step, the patient is exposed to a beam of low energy neutrons, many of which are absorbed by the boron-10. The absorption initiates a reaction that emits short-range, high-energy charged particles. Scientific studies demonstrate that these particles systematically destroy the tumor cells while imparting relatively little damage to adjacent areas of healthy tissue. 

Neutron’s flagship product, nuBeam, shown in the top photo, is a high-throughput, compact accelerator-based neutron source suitable for clinical settings, able to replace legacy nuclear reactors. It has the highest neutron flux of all currently available BNCT systems and is the only device producing an IAEA-compliant BNCT beam for the safe and effective clinical use of neutrons. 

The first simulated patient treatment using nuBeam was carried out recently at Helsinki University Hospital. Finland has been a European hotspot of BNCT trials since 1992. With the ongoing clinical verification and validation testing of the nuBeam system at the hospital, patients who have inoperable, locally recurrent head, neck, and other cancers incurable with conventional radiation therapy are now much closer to reaping benefits from boron neutron capture therapy. The hospital is a pioneer in the clinical use of BNCT. Using a research nuclear reactor as the neutron source, it has applied BNCT to over 200 cancer patients. 

“We are extremely excited that our collaboration with Helsinki University Hospital has demonstrated nuBeam’s excellent reliability in the clinical environment. We are committed to achieving the initiation of clinical trials in the first half of 2023 at our first European nuBeam installation,” said Dr. Elizabeth Reczek, CEO. 

In late June, the University Hospital of Brussels committed to placing a nuBeam suite at its Institut Jules Bordet, Erasmus Campus, Anderlecht, becoming the third clinical center in the world to implement Neutron’s ground-breaking technology. 

High-flux neutron source being readied in Massachusetts for shipment to Birmingham 

In another placement, the company’s latest High Flux Accelerator-Driven Neutron Source is being installed at the University of Birmingham. The facility will be part of the UK’s National Nuclear User Facility and will enable a wide range of research projects requiring a reliable neutron source, ranging from nuclear medicine to materials science to space applications. See