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Breakthrough therapy destroys cancer with no side effects

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Breakthrough cancer treatment destroys tumors from the inside out.

University of Missouri researchers have found a way to destroy cancer cells in mice in breakthrough studies. Human trials are anticipated given the success of the treatment that had no side effects; unlike conventional chemotherapy and radiation used to treat cancer.


Radiation treatment uses boron to destroy cancer.

Professor M. Frederick Hawthorne and his team developed the new type of radiation therapy known as boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) - a cancer treatment Hawthorne says researchers have been working on since the 1930's.

Hawthorne and his team have taken advantage of cancer cells’ affinity for absorbing more materials than normal cells. He developed a boron chemical that cancer cells gobble up but then causes tumors exposed to neutrons to shatter; without destroying healthy tissue.

The form of boron developed by Hawthorne releases energy, lithium and helium when a neutron is captured. Helium and lithium penetrate cancer cells, Destruction of cancer occurs from the inside out.

Hawthorne who is a recent recipient of the National Medal of Science awarded by President Obama said in a press release: “Our team at MU’s International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine finally found the way to make BNCT work by taking advantage of a cancer cell’s biology with nanochemistry.”

Hawthorne says the breakthrough cancer therapy can kill a wide variety of cancer types. He says the treatment worked “excellently” in mice and the next step is to test larger animals; then humans.

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The authors wrote: “Significant suppression of tumor growth was observed in mice given BNCT vs. control mice (only 424% increase in tumor volume at 14 d post irradiation vs. 1551% in untreated controls). In a separate experiment in which mice were given a second injection/irradiation treatment 7 d after the first, the tumor growth was vastly diminished (186% tumor volume increase at 14 d). A similar response was obtained for mice irradiated for 60 min (169% increase at 14 d).”

The boron compound was administered intravenously into the tail veins of mice. Radiation therapy with neutron was delivered to mammary adenocarcinoma solid tumors 54 hours after the initial injection.

MU will have the first facility to offer the treatment when suitable equipment and facilities are built. Clinical trials in humans are expected to begin as soon as Hawthorne receives funding.

Hawthorne says the treatment development was successful because MU is one of the few universities in the United States that has engineering and science disciplines on the same campus. The Missouri facility also has strong biomedical departments in addition to the largest university research nuclear reactor, all of which are factors that drew the researcher to MU from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006.

New highlighting the breakthrough cancer treatment is published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

“Boron neutron capture therapy demonstrated in mice bearing EMT 6 tumors following selective delivery of boron by rationally designed liposomes.” http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/03/27/1303437110

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons