Although clinical studies with carbon ions have been conducted successfully in Japan and Europe, the limited radiobiological information about charged particles that are heavier than protons remains a significant impediment to exploiting the full potential of particle therapy. There is growing interest in the U.S. to build a cancer treatment facility that utilizes charged particles heavier than protons. Therefore, it is essential that additional radiobiological knowledge be obtained using state-of-the-art technologies and biological models and end points relevant to clinical outcome. Currently, most such ion radiotherapy-related research is being conducted outside the U.S. This article addresses the substantial contributions to that research that are possible at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), which is the only facility in the U.S. at this time where heavy-ion radiobiology research with the ion species and energies of interest for therapy can be done. Here, we briefly discuss the relevant facilities at NSRL and how selected charged particle biology research gaps could be addressed using those facilities.
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Vol. 185 • No. 6