Berkeley Lab Logo

Berkeley Lab Currents

June 21, 1996


Berkeley Lab proposes accelerator for boron neutron capture therapy

By Lynn Yarris

A proposal by Berkeley Lab researchers, if successful, offers hope for victims of one of the deadliest of all forms of cancer. The proposal calls for the construction of a unique room-sized accelerator that would be used in an experimental medical procedure aimed at treating a type of brain tumor called a "glio-blastoma multiforme." The procedure is known as boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT).

Glioblastoma multiforme afflicts approximately 12,500 people in the United States every year. The disease is always fatal, usually within six months of onset. Surgery and conventional radiation therapies may prolong life for as much as a year but do not stop the spread of tumors throughout the brain. Experiments in the U.S. in the early 1960s involving BNCT, and subsequent work in Japan, have tantalized researchers with hints that successful treatment of glioblastoma multiforme is possible. However, many critical questions need to be answered.

The idea behind BNCT is straightforward. A tumor-seeking compound containing boron-10, a non-radioactive isotope, is introduced into the brain and given time to accumulate in the tumor. The tumor is then exposed to a beam of neutrons, which are "captured" or absorbed by the boron-10. Capturing neutrons causes the boron nuclei to break apart, resulting in the emission of alpha radiation and lithium nuclei. Both alpha-particles and lithium are high in energy but short in range, which means they destroy the malignant cells in which boron-10 is imbedded without hurting the adjacent healthy cells.

Scientists have known about the ability of boron-10 to capture neutrons since the 1930s and use it as a radiation shield in geiger counters. In the 1960s, collaborative BNCT experiments were conducted by researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on 69 patients diagnosed to be in the advanced stages of brain cancer. Despite treatments, all of the patients died. However, autopsies revealed that the tumors had been destroyed.

"At that time, researchers did not understand that you must have four times more boron-10 in the tumor than in the surrounding healthy tissue for BNCT to work," says Bill Chu, a Life Sciences Division (LSD) physicist working with the Ion Beam Technology Group in the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division (AFRD). "Otherwise, there is too much damage to the normal tissue for any therapeutic gain."

Subsequent BNCT experiments in Japan in which miraculous results were reported (though not always believed) have encouraged a revival of the research effort in the U.S and Europe. One of the chief issues to be resolved is finding the best way to generate the neutrons that the boron-10 captures. Following the path of the earlier experiments, researchers at BNL and MIT are using a nuclear reactor as their source of neutrons. This begs the question, how many hospitals are willing to install a nuclear reactor on their premises?

Berkeley Lab researchers, led by LSD's Chu, in partnership with medical researchers at major West Coast institutes, have proposed what should be a much more acceptable alternative.

"We want to build a high-current electrostatic quadrupole (ESQ) accelerator which would be used in a science-based BNCT facility at Berkeley Lab," says Chu. "We would use components from the SuperHILAC and the technology developed in the Lab's fusion energy program."

According to Chu, using a compact (about three meters in length) ESQ accelerator for BNCT rather than a nuclear reactor is not only more realistic, it also offers many technical and economic advantages. From the technical standpoint, an ESQ accelerator produces more "epithermal neutrons" (neutrons in the one to 10,000 electron volt energy range) at energies that are ideal for BNCT, especially for the treatment of deep-seated tumors.

"Furthermore, the ESQ accelerators generate epithermal neutrons at lower energies than those produced in nuclear fission processes," says Chu. "This makes it easier to reduce the harmful higher-energy components of the epithermal neutron beam."

Another technical issue is the type of boronated compound that is introduced into the brain. Researchers using a reactor for their neutron source have been approved to work with two compounds that were developed in the late 1950s and are not viewed as ideal. Recently, Professor Stephen Kahl, at UC San Francisco, developed a compound called "boronated porphyrin" or BOPP, which has shown enormous promise in various animal studies. For any such compound to be effective, it is crucial for it to be able to get past the blood barrier that encases and protects the brain. It is also crucial that the compound concentrates in tumors and rapidly clears from healthy brain cells and the blood system.

"In animal studies (mice and dogs), the ratio of BOPP in tumors and healthy cells was greater than 100 to one, and it cleared sufficiently fast from the blood," says Kahl. "BOPP is also better than 30-percent boron by weight and highly water soluble, which should make it safer and more effective than the old compounds."

A BNCT facility at Berkeley Lab with its ESQ-accelerator would be established specifically to test BOPP and other new boronated compounds as they are discovered. It could also be used to test compounds that concentrate in other types of tumors, such as melanoma, sarcoma, head, neck, and pancreas tumors.

To make sure that the Berkeley Lab's BNCT is a valuable resource for the medical community as well as an important scientific tool, Chu has worked with Dr. Ted Phillips, Chair of Radiation Oncology at UCSF, to organize an interdisciplinary group called the West Coast Neutron Capture Therapy Association. Joining Berkeley Lab and UCSF as member institutes of this association are UC Berkeley and UC Davis, Stanford University, Loma Linda University, and the University of Washington.

Here at Berkeley Lab, the BNCT project team has been able to draw from a wide and diverse talent pool. In addition to Chu, the list of involved Lab researchers includes, from AFRD, Darren Bleuel, Rick Gough, Joe Kwan, Ka-Ngo Leung, John Staples, Bob Stevenson, and Simon Yu; from LSD, Javed Afzal, Ellie Blakely, Tom Budinger, Dan Callahan, Bernhard Ludewigt, and Scott Taylor; from Engineering Division, Matt Hoff, Craig Peters, Lou Reginato, and Rajinder Singh; and from the Environmental Health and Safety Division, Rick Donahue.

The proposed ESQ-accelerator at Berkeley Lab would be an upgraded version of the Adam injector that served the SuperHILAC so well. With the accelerator technology for the most part proven, and portions of the hardware available through re-cycling, the cost of constructing a patient-ready BNCT facility at Berkeley is estimated at $4 million. This is substantially less than the cost of converting a nuclear reactor for medical use. Once up and running, operational costs for an accelerator-based facility would also be lower than those for a reactor-based system.

"There is also the matter of disposing of a nuclear reactor when it has reached the end of its useful life," says Chu. "This is not a problem for ESQ accelerators."

Chu estimates it would take approximately 2.5 years to complete Berkeley Lab's BNCT facility, which means that if started next year, clinical trials on patients could be underway by 1999. AFRD will be receiving $300,000 for the preliminary proposal work for this year. A peer review will be held this summer before a final decision on full funding is made.

CAPTION: Glioblastoma multiforme, which strikes brain cells, is one of the deadliest of all forms of cancer. Fluorescence in this electron microscope image shows the neutron-capturing drug BOPP collecting near the nuclei of tumor cells it will later kill.

CAPTION: BOPP is short-hand for boronated porphyrin, a molecule that contains 40 atoms of boron-10 and is drawn to tumor cells. When boron-10 captures neutrons, it emits radiation that can kill tumors.


Photo Lab keeps pace with latest technology

New Photographer comes to Hill

By Mike Wooldridge

There's a new man behind the lens in the Photo and Electronic Imaging Department. Photographer Roy Kaltschmidt, who began work at Berkeley Lab on June 10, should be become a familiar sight around the Hill in the coming months, camera in hand.

Kaltschmidt spent the past 25 years primarily as a freelance photographer, working for some of the Bay Area's largest corporations. He's shot oil refineries for Chevron, climbed to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge for PG&E, done corporate work for Bank of America and Wells Fargo, and sailed the seas with Royal Cruise Lines.

He also spent three years with the Army--on an extended photo assignment--snapping pictures for use in military training. "Military police procedures, helicopter training: I pretty much saw it all," he said.

Kaltschmidt said the Lab seemed an especially good opportunity because of its strong move into digital imaging.

He also sees plenty of interesting subject matter here on the Hill. "It would be exciting to be set loose with a camera in a place like the Advanced Light Source," he said. "There's so much amazing equipment, so many interesting angles."

Kaltschmidt hopes to contribute some of his personal style to Lab publications, experimenting with ambient lighting and more motion when he works with Lab researchers.

"I like to think a lot about the final product when I shoot--meet with the client beforehand, study the environment, maybe use Photoshop afterwards to do something creative with the image," he said.

Will he miss the freelancer's life? "Freelancing is a great way to live, but after a while it can take its toll," he said. "When it rains it pours. Other times you're just waiting by the phone for clients to call. I decided it was time to take the plunge into more steady 9-to-5 work"

Lab's digital setup gets exposure

Not exactly new at the Photo Lab--but still getting attention--is the department's hi-tech digital imaging. The Photo Department went "chemical free" in October 1994, replacing the conventional processing and 1,500 gallons of toxic silver halide chemicals with digital cameras, scanners, and graphics-intensive computer workstations.

The all-digital setup was featured in a recent issue of Photo Electronic Imaging.

Since the switch, the Photo Lab has had visitors from sister DOE Labs (Berkeley Lab was the first to go chemical free), government organizations such as the General Accounting Office, and private companies such as Chevron--all of whom are looking to digitize their own photo operations.

For its pollution reduction efforts, the Photo Lab has been awarded three commendations: a 1996 DOE Pollution Prevention Award--for zero waste generation from photographic operations at Berkeley Lab; a DOE Certificate of Appreciation--for dedication and leadership in contributing to the Department's mission to prevent pollution in operations, processes, and programs; and a Closing the Circle Award from the White House.

The Photo Lab still offers film-based processing to those on the Hill who want it through an off-site vendor. But, says department head Don Fike, about 90% of the imaging work is fully digital. The Lab currently processes about eight gigabytes worth of digital images every month, and archives approximately two gigabytes per month.

CAPTION: New photographer Roy Kaltschmidt at one of the Photo Lab's digital imaging workstations.


Work Force Diversity to hold panel discussion

"Managing Work Force Diversity: Our Future Challenge" will be the topic of a panel discussion scheduled for noon on Monday, June 24, in the Bldg. 50 Auditorium. Klaus H. Berkner, Deputy Director for Operations, will provide opening remarks. All employees are invited to participate in the event, which was recommended by the Laboratory's Diversity Committee.

Invited guest speakers include Gloria Gilford-Logan, Director of Workforce Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity at Kaiser Permanente; Sidalia G. Reel, Diversity Education Program Manager at Hewlett-Packard; and Tommy Smith, Jr., Director for Affirmative Action and Diversity at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Also joining the guest speakers will be Harry Reed, Head of the Laboratory's Work Force Diversity Office.

Moderated by Ronita Johnson of Ronita Johnson & Associates, Diversity Management Consultants, panelists will discuss why and how their institution or organization invests resources in managing diversity, and the resulting benefits to all employees involved. Each panel member will identify and address equal employment opportunities, affirmative action and diversity issues, and strategies associated with future challenges in their respective organizations.

Audience participants will have an opportunity to ask questions of the panel members as they describe their corporate culture and share their experiences in approaching initiatives and developing diversity programs.




The budget resolution approved by the House and Senate last week would not abolish DOE. The measure, which is not binding and does not require the President's signature, also tempered the House plan to eliminate funding for energy R&D programs and instead proposed to "reduce" DOE's efforts to commercialize energy technologies. In the conference report, the two chambers "agreed to disagree on the future status of DOE." House Republican leaders continued to call for the abolishment of the Department, a proposal Senate Republicans, led by Pete Domenici of New Mexico, strongly opposed.


Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary praised the report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) on its review of DOE's strategic alignment initiative. The report said that DOE's budget cuts are "on target" to achieve its near-term reduction goals. The Department was credited with attaining the $221 million in cost savings it promised for FY-96. "After close scrutiny, GAO put a stamp of success on our efforts to save taxpayer dollars and improve performance," O'Leary said in a statement. "The credit goes to DOE federal and contractor employees throughout the country." The GAO report did caution that DOE is still in the early stages of its strategic alignment initiative, and that it is unclear whether its five-year reduction goal of $1.7 billion will be achieved. Much of the savings are attributed to actions taken in response to the recommendations of the Galvin and Yergin task forces.


To strengthen its ties with the communities surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of California has announced it is opening an office in northern New Mexico. The recent decision by DOE to enter negotiations with UC on continuing its management of LANL, as well as LLNL and Berkeley Lab, has prompted the University to demonstrate its commitment to local governments and civic organizations in New Mexico. The new regional office, which will be located in downtown Los Alamos, next to the Bradbury Science Museum, is scheduled to open before July 1.



The full text of each edition of Currents is published on the Lab's home page on the World Wide Web. View it at under "Research News and Publications." To set up your computer to access the World Wide Web, call the Mac and PC Support Group at X6858.


Employee Development Fair proves popular

CAPTION: Representatives from Human Resources and the Workforce Diversity Office greeted employees last week at a two-day Employee Development Fair. The Transitions Management Group and several Bay Area schools were also on hand to answer questions. Approximately 300 attendees received information about educational opportunities, on and off-site training, the mentor program, and more. Representatives offered individual attention to employees seeking information about their career and development options. If you missed the fair and would like more information regarding these programs, contact Christa Brothers at X4238. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt


June 24-July 5



7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. near Bldg. 77


"Germany's Future Energy Policy - Potential Scope and Areas of Action for Rational Energy Use and Renewable Energies" will be presented by Ole Langniss of the Institute for Technical Thermodynamics, Stuttgart, Germany, at 3:45 p.m. in Bldg. 90-3148; refreshments, 3:30 p.m.


"Generalized Crewther Relation and Commensurate Scale Relations" will be presented by Stanley Brodsky of SLAC at 4 p.m. in Bldg. 50A-5132.


Classical Group Rehearsal, 5-7 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Wesley Steele at X7893.



Current Contents Training at 11 a.m. in Bldg. 50-134


"Transcriptional Control of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Differentiation into Adipocytes" will be presented by Stephen Farmer of the Boston University School of Medicine at 4 p.m. in the Bldg. 66 Auditorium.



Building Emergency Team Training (EHS 154), 9-11:30 a.m., Bldg. 48-109


Folk Group Rehearsal, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Larry Bell at X5406.



"High Efficiency Green and Blue Light Emitting Diodes" will be presented by Joel Ager of LBNL at noon in Bldg. 90-3148.


"Micro-Scale Redox-Dependent Segregation of Selenium in Sediments" will be presented by Tetsu Tokunaga of LBNL at noon in Bldg. 50A-5132.


"Being Gay in Business and Politics in Berkeley" will be presented by Jeffrey Shattuck Leiter at noon in the Bldg. 50 Auditorium.


Current Contents Training at 3 p.m. in Bldg. 62-339


Rock Group Rehearsal, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Steve Blair at X5927.



"Serving not Surfing the Web: Tools for Teaching and Publishing at LBNL" will be presented by Nancy Travis of the Macintosh and PC Support Group from 10-11 a.m. in the Bldg. 50 Auditorium. For abstract information check


Center for Beam Physics/Ion Beam Technology/Nuclear Science Division seminar

"Development and Physics of ECR Ion Source in Grenoble" will be presented by Denis Hitz of Grenoble at 11 a.m. in the Bldg. 71 conference room.


Classical Group Rehearsal, 5-7 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Wesley Steele at X7893.



"The Structure of the Proton and Diffraction in Deep Inelastic Scattering at HERA" will be presented by Maria Teresa P. Roco of Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, DESY Hamburg, Germany, at 4 p.m. in Bldg. 50A-5132; refreshments, 3:40 p.m.



Folk Group Rehearsal, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria, for info. contact Larry Bell at X5406.






Special Film Festival Comes to Berkeley

The 16th Annual Jewish Film Festival will take place at the UC Theater in Berkeley from July 27th to August 1st. The festival, which is the oldest and most prestigious of its kind in the world, drew more than 30,000 in its San Francisco/Berkeley showings last year. This year's festival will feature over 49 films from 12 countries and will focus on peace in the Middle East. The festival's goal is to provide a distinguished showcase for new independent Jewish cinema and to create a forum where audiences can grapple with identity and build bridges between communities.

The Employees' Arts Council will coordinate ticket purchases for any LBNL staff interested in attending the films so they can receive a group rate discount. Tickets are $6 per feature film for groups of 10 persons and greater.

To get more information about the festival and to order tickets ahead of time, please contact either Nathan Martin (X5137, [email protected]) or Mary Clary (X4940, [email protected]). Ticket orders must be placed by Monday, July 1 to qualify for the group rate.


Traffic Restrictions begin on Centennial Drive

UC Berkeley is scheduled to begin their re-surfacing of Centennial Drive. The project will begin above the Haas Clubhouse and will progress uphill to the Lawrence Hall of Science over a four-month period. Beginning June 20, only up-hill traffic will be permitted in the portion of the canyon between the Haas Clubhouse and the Poultry Husbandry Building between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Strawberry, Grizzly and Building 73 entrances to the Laboratory will be accessible to both uphill and downhill traffic through the middle of July. As the re-surfacing progresses, access to these entrances will be available only to uphill traffic (between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.) during certain weeks.

Throughout the re-surfacing project, both traffic lanes will be available (one uphill and one downhill) between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., and on weekends. Please be cautious in the construction area as the road surface will be irregular and reduced speeds advised.

Watch Currents for updates on future phases of the work. If you have any questions, please contact Rich McClure at X4486.


Memorial for Shelby Thornton

Former Lab electronics coordinator Shelby "Thorny" Thornton, who retired in 1978, passed away on June 4. He was 84 years old. Friends may attend a memorial service to be held on June 23 at the Springbrook Masonic Temple, 101 Temple Way, Vallejo, at 2 p.m.



Flea Market ads may be sent via e-mail to [email protected], Fax to X6641, or Lab mail to Bldg. 65B. The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.


'73 DODGE van, 1/2 ton, a/t, p/s, p/b, reblt eng., white/blue top, runs great, $1500/b.o. 558-9212

'78 OLDSMOBILE Cutlass Supreme, 75K mi., gd mech. cond., maint. records, leaving, $1K/b.o. Jean-Michel, X7538, 548-0626

'81 FIAT Spyder 2000, fuel injection, runs great, white w/red int., $3K/b.o. X4670, 653-4216

'86 ACURA Legend, a/t, 4-dr sedan, 6-cyl, p/s, p/b, elec. moon rf, airbag, new transmission, gold color, blue plush int., 146K hwy mi., $4400/b.o. X6005

'89 PONTIAC Grand Am SE, 95K mi., many options, sunrf, alloy wheels, new transmission, muffler & battery, $3900. Marion, 215-2305

ENGINE, Ford 390, w/C6 manual trans., carburetor, headers, etc., like new. 906-9786

MOTORCYCLE HELMETS (2), med. & XL, gd cond., $40 ea. Jim, 215-2305


VANPOOL, riders wanted from Larkspur (7:10 a.m.) to UCB (7:45 a.m.)/LBNL (7:50 a.m.), leave LBNL (4:50 p.m.)/UCB (5 p.m.), Commuter checks accepted. Nobu, X4585


FOOTBALL, 49ers/Raiders (PSLs), 50 yd. line seats, as low as $1200. John, (415) 924-0367


CARE-GIVER/AU PAIR, for 6- & 8-yr.-old, July & Aug., Berkeley, live-in preferred, room, board & allowance. 649-0236

HEAT REGISTER, old-fashioned, 12"x13" w/2-1/4" depth at floor level or approx. sz. Ruth, 526-2007


BIKE, 10-spd, high frame, needs new tires, $60. Deirdre, X4020

COLOR TV, GE, 19", 8 mo. old, like new, stereo, cable ready, remote control, moving, must sell, $200. X4464, 549-9907

COMPUTER, Macintosh Powerbook Duo 230 sub-notebook, 12MB RAM, 80MB hard drive, ext. floppy drive/adapter, carrying case, AC adapter, manuals, system disks, orig. box, $750/b.o. Brian, X4398

MOVING SALE, futon, oak, black, very solid, 6 mo. old, bought for $600, $300; 3 bookshelves, white, IKEA, $30 ea.; 2 dressers, black, IKEA, 3-drwrs/pc., $30 ea.; dining table, black, folding, $25; 4 chairs, black wood w/white canvas, $8 ea.; 1 sm. table, white, IKEA, $7, all in very gd cond. Diana, X4978, (415) 592-4791

PRINTER, Panasonic KXP-1180 9-pin dot matrix, exc. cond., w/stand, dust cover & extra ribbon, $25/offer. Dave, X4024, 526-0552 (eve.)

REFRIGERATOR, 22 cu. ft., Kenmore, avocado, provides chill water, exc. cond., except ice maker quit, less than 10 yr. old, $450. 235-3983

REFRIGERATOR, great cond., 2-dr, frost clear, $120/b.o. Yong, X5304, 559-8461

STEREO SPEAKERS, Acoustic Research AR3a, $100/pr.; CD carousel, 5-disk, Sony CDP-C700, $75. 548-7239

SUPER NINTENDO, Super NES Mario set w/5 Super Mario games + second controller + Zelda Game (adventure), like new, $190 new, $95. Corinne, X6174, 848-0098


ALBANY, rm for rent in sunny, 2-bdrm house, hardwd flrs, garden, $480 + utils. Nance, X7328

BERKELEY, rm for rent in modern, 3-bdrm, 2-bth townhouse in UC faculty/staff complex (Jefferson at Allston), family of 3 looking for quiet, tidy, kid-friendly, non-smoker, avail. 8/1, $385/mo. X7916, 525-8559

BERKELEY, Thousand Oaks Dist., furn. studio w/pvt bth, nr stores & trans., 10 min. from UCB, $425/mo. 525-9094 (msg.)

BERKELEY HILLS, 5-bdrm house, walk to UCB & LBNL, avail. 7/21 - 8/19, $1500. 704-0538, 845-7929 (FAX)

NO. BERKELEY, rms in pvt. home, kitchen privs., TV & pvt. phone line in rms, 1 person per rm, walk to LBNL/UCB, avail. 2-6 mos., $185/wk, $550/mo. 527-3252

NO. BERKELEY, furn. 2-bdrm, 1-bth house, washer/dryer, walk to LHS, LBNL, UCB bus & #8, #63 bus lines., avail. to 8/31, $1350/mo. 841-2837

EL CERRITO, E.C. Plaza area, sm., sunny 2-bdrm cottage, laundry, eat-in kitchen, pvt. yd, nr BART, avail. 7/15, $930/mo. 268-1393 (eve.)

KENSINGTON, furn. rm w/kitchen privs., avail. during July, flex., $350/mo. 526-2007

MARTINEZ, 2-bdrm, 2-1/2 bth townhouse, 2-car garage w/opener, frpl, refrig., dishwasher, washer & dryer, patio, low maintenance, pool, tennis cts., no pets, ~30 min. from LBNL, avail. 7/1, $900/mo. + sec. 620-0129

WANTED: housing for visiting scientist from Germany, she is here until 12/15. Andre, X6745, 559-8652

WANTED: housing for LBNL physicist, wife & toddler, for 7/15-8/31. Mike, X7043

WANTED: studio/1-bdrm flat for responsible, clean, quiet female grad student, non-smoker, no pets, for long term rental, starting 8/15 or earlier, prefer safe neighborhood, price range $400-$500/mo. Carla, 525-1756

WANTED: short term housing for German LBNL/ALS post-doc w/spouse, Aug. only. Winni, (+49)30 6879816, [email protected]

WANTED: 1-bdrm, cottage, apt or share, furn./unfurn., for LBNL employee, 7/1 or earlier. Steven, X6966, 204-9494