The study find that an experimental technology call FLASH radiotherapy dramatically reduces the adverse cognitive side effects unleash by traditional radiation treatments.In physics; radiation describes any process in which energy emitted by one body travels through a medium or through space; ultimately to be absorb by another body.

Traditional radiation treatments

Non-physicists often associate the word with ionizing radiation (e.g., as occurring in nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors, and radioactive substances); but it can also refer to electromagnetic radiation (i.e., radio waves, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, and X-rays) which can also be ionizing radiation, to acoustic radiation, or to other more obscure processes.

“Although more research needs to be done, this has the potential to revolutionize cancer care worldwide;” said Charles Limoli; a professor of radiation oncology in UCI’s School of Medicine and co-author of the study; which appears online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor of radiation oncology

Unlike current radiotherapy treatments; which target tumors with low-dose ionizing radiation for several minutes per session and invariably damage surrounding brain tissue; FLASH employs a much higher dose of radiation but only for milliseconds. Overall; the subjects received the same amount of radiation; but FLASH delivered it in a much shorter time frame.

In tests on mice, the quick-burst technique sharply reduced collateral cell damage and thereby reduced the learning and memory problems and mood disorders associated with conventional radiation, according to the study. Working with Swiss radiobiologist Marie-Catherine Vozenin; who pioneered the technique in 2014; Limoli’s UCI team used laboratory mice and a battery of tests to analyze “the FLASH effect” and decipher how it works.

Toxic hydrogen peroxide

Their conclusion: The split-second duration of FLASH irradiation delivered 3,000 times faster than conventional treatments – produced lower levels of toxic hydrogen peroxide in brain cells. Limiting that chemical reaction protected the brain from short- and long-term damage; the research found. But FLASH was just as effective against tumors as current treatments.

The human brain is the center of the human nervous system and is a highly complex organ. Enclosed in the cranium, it has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but is over three times as large as the brain of a mammal with an equivalent body size.

Most of the expansion comes from the cerebral cortex, a convoluted layer of neural tissue that covers the surface of the fore brain. Especially expanded are the frontal lobes, which are involved in executive functions such as self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought. The portion of the brain devoted to vision is also greatly enlarged in humans.