The effects of FLASH-level dose rates delivered at the spread-out Bragg peak (SOBP) on normal tissue damage in mice were investigated.
Fifty nontumor-bearing mice received abdominal irradiation, 30 at FLASH dose rates (100 Gy/s) and 20 at conventional dose rates (0.1 Gy/s). Total dose values ranged from 10 to 19 Gy, delivered in a single spot by a synchrocyclotron proton therapy system. Centered on the abdomen, the collimated field delivered was an 11-mm diameter circle with a water-equivalent depth of 2.4 cm from entrance to distal 80% dose. A ridge filter was used to provide dose uniformity over the full 2.4-cm range. The spatial distribution was identical for both the FLASH and conventional deliveries.
Overall survival and individual mouse weights were tracked for 21 days after the exposure date, and LD50 values were compared for the FLASH and conventional dose rate groups. Mice exposed to FLASH dose rates had a higher LD50 value as compared with mice exposed to conventional dose rates, with a dose-dependent improvement in survivability of 10% to 20%. The FLASH cohort also showed greater or equal percent population survival for each day of the study.
These results are preliminary confirmation of the potential for the combination of the advantages of the Bragg peak with the normal tissue sparing benefits of FLASH treatments. This experiment also confirms that pulsed synchrocyclotrons can be used for the purpose of FLASH research and treatment.