Issued 10/19/98

For more information, contact Diane Greenberg or Mona S. Rowe





Upton, NY - Dr. Aidnag Z. Diaz, a radiation oncologist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, will give a lecture titled "Clinical Aspects of Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT)," on Wednesday, November 18, at 4 p.m. in the Laboratory's Berkner Hall.

As Associate Chief of Staff of Brookhaven Lab's Clinical Research Center, Dr. Diaz has been overseeing clinical trials of BNCT, a promising experimental therapy for glioblastoma multiforme, a lethal type of brain cancer that strikes about 7,000 Americans annually. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Under a protocol sanctioned by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Brookhaven researchers, in collaboration with researchers from the State University of New York at Stony Brook's Health Sciences Center, the Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have been injecting selected brain cancer patients with a tumor-seeking chemical compound. The compound, which contains boron, collects in the tumor, where it is activated by a beam of neutrons from the Brookhaven Medical Research Reactor, thereby destroying tumor cells.

Forty-one patients have been treated for these clinical trials so far, and their median survival is 13.4 months, which is comparable to the median survival of patients who have undergone conventional treatment. While conventional treatment with radiation and chemotherapy requires many hospital visits, BNCT is completed with one treatment that lasts about one hour. Further, the clinical trials have proven that the initial radiation dose could be delivered safely to the tumor, without serious damage to nearby healthy tissue.

The new BNCT trials, which started October 15, are open to patients whose tumor has begun to grow again, despite previous treatment with radiation or chemotherapy, or patients who have not been treated with conventional methods previously, either with or without surgical removal of the tumor. Researchers will be using higher radiation doses in the new trials.

In his lecture, Dr. Diaz will give a brief overview of the history of BNCT at Brookhaven Lab, including the first experimental trials completed at the Laboratory in the 1950s and 60s, followed by a description of the current clinical program. Further, he will discuss the results of current trials and future directions.

A board-certified radiation oncologist, Dr. Diaz received a B.S. and an M.S. in nuclear engineering from Columbia University, in 1981 and 1983, respectively. From 1983-84, he was an engineer designing nuclear reactor cores at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

In 1988, he earned both an M.P.H. from Columbia University's School of Public Health, and an M.D. from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was a resident in internal medicine at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan from 1988-1991, and a resident in radiation oncology at the University of California at San Francisco from 1991-1994.

From 1995-97, Dr. Diaz was an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and, during that time, he became a guest medical scientist at Brookhaven Lab. In 1997, he joined Brookhaven Lab's Medical Department, where he became an associate scientist and, in 1998, he took on the additional duties of Associate Chief of Staff of Brookhaven's Clinical Research Center. Also in 1997, he joined the staff of the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in the Bronx.

Dr. Diaz is a member of many professional and scientific societies, including the New York State Radiological Society, the Suffolk County Medical Society, and the American Medical Association.

For more information about the lecture, call Brookhaven's Public Affairs Office at (516)344-2345. The Laboratory is located on William Floyd Parkway (County Road 46), one-and-a-half miles north of Exit 68 on the Long Island Expressway.