There could be new hope for cancer patients.
A study at the University of Missouri successfully put cancer into remission in mice with no harmful side effects, like traditional cancer therapies.
The basis of the study dates back to the 1930s.
Scientists at that time knew about boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) and how it could treat cancer. They just could never find a way to make it work. In this breakthrough study, scientists at the University of Missouri figured it out.
“Having it really work and do more good than harm is a recent condition” Dr. M. Frederick Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne’s team of researchers used nano-chemistry to take advantage of cancer cells.
“Both of them were successfully treated without side effects, without losing any animals to the side effects,” Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne designed a boron chemical that is injected into the bloodstream. Cancer cells absorb it, like a sponge, as they grow.
“That is one step. The second step is radiate the operation site with neutrons,” he said.
Once neutrons contact a boron, the cancer cells shatter.
“You kill the cell, and you do so quite selectively,” he said.
Any neighboring healthy cells are spared. Scientists say a wide variety of cancers can be attacked with this new form of radiation therapy.
“(It) stops colon cancer in its tracks,” Hawthorne said.
Treatment would become less costly financially and physically.
“It should make things much simpler for therapy, pain, ache, and discontent the patient goes through while doing therapy,” Hawthorne said.
Recently, Hawthorne received the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama to honor his discovery – a breakthrough that so many battling cancer have been hoping for.
The next step would require moving on to trials with larger animals. Then they will start treating people. However, the university will need to first build suitable equipment and facilities.
Once funding is secured, the University of Missouri will have the first radiation therapy of this kind in the world.
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