medical

Brain tumors may no longer be too great of a threat with the help of today's advancement on X-ray therapies. With the improvement of X-ray therapies, a team of German biomedical scientists are currently working on a powerful laser that might have the potential to zap brain tumors. The scientists plan to construct a petawatt laser that is strong enough to vaporize a target, creating protons that will then penetrate a tumor cell and kill it without affecting the surrounding tissues. This method (proton beam therapy) is already in motion at specific hospital locations.

However, some of the X-rays can wind up in tissue beyond the edges of the tumor, and some parts of the brain, such as the brain stem and the optic nerves, can be particularly sensitive to the radiation. Fortunately, protons end not to scatter in tissue; how far they penetrate depends on their kinetic energy, which promises to make targeting more precise. Apparently, with protons, if you do it correctly, the dose drops to nearly zero behind the tumor.

As of right now, researchers have been using a laser that produced 150 terawatts of power. Recently, they have upgraded it to 500 TW, which is half of their potential goal. The proton beams that they already produced give off 85 megaelectron-volts. Although 85 MeV isn't too bad, it takes about 230 Mev to treat a brain tumor, they.

It is estimated that it will take another five to 10 years to complete the laser, and then researchers will have to prove the therapy’s effectiveness. Proton therapy has proved to be effective for brain tumors, but there’s no evidence that it’s the best form of treatment as of yet. There’s also a question of whether it will be economically feasible. Despite proton therapy being twice as effective as x-rays in obliterating cancer cells, the cost is 10 times higher.

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