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Radiother Oncol. 2006 Dec;81(3):233-42. Epub 2006 Oct 27.

The biological effectiveness of antiproton irradiation.

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  • 1Pbar Labs, LLC, Santa Fe, NM, USA.



Antiprotons travel through tissue in a manner similar to that for protons until they reach the end of their range where they annihilate and deposit additional energy. This makes them potentially interesting for radiotherapy. The aim of this study was to conduct the first ever measurements of the biological effectiveness of antiprotons.


V79 cells were suspended in a semi-solid matrix and irradiated with 46.7MeV antiprotons, 48MeV protons, or (60)Co gamma-rays. Clonogenic survival was determined as a function of depth along the particle beams. Dose and particle fluence response relationships were constructed from data in the plateau and Bragg peak regions of the beams and used to assess the biological effectiveness.


Due to uncertainties in antiproton dosimetry we defined a new term, called the biologically effective dose ratio (BEDR), which compares the response in a minimally spread out Bragg peak (SOBP) to that in the plateau as a function of particle fluence. This value was approximately 3.75 times larger for antiprotons than for protons. This increase arises due to the increased dose deposited in the Bragg peak by annihilation and because this dose has a higher relative biological effectiveness (RBE).


We have produced the first measurements of the biological consequences of antiproton irradiation. These data substantiate theoretical predictions of the biological effects of antiproton annihilation within the Bragg peak, and suggest antiprotons warrant further investigation.

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