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New cancer treatment proves successful with no side-effects

A new cancer treatment is currently undergoing testing. The treatment, a type of radiation therapy, is free from all the harmful side-effects associated with chemo- and radiation-treatments.

A new form of cancer treatment is being developed by Professor M. Frederick Hawthorne at the University of Missouri. The treatment, which utilized radiation to cause remission of cancer cells, has successfully treated mice with cancer, without giving them the harmful side-effects of aggressive treatments like chemotherapy or traditional radiation therapy.

Cancer – kill it with neutrons!


The treatment works because of a defining trait of cancer cells; they grow faster, and thus require more nutrients, than regular cells. Hawthorne’s team injected a boron isotope into the mice, essentially feeding it to the cancer cells. Once infused with the isotope, Hawthorne bombarded the cells with neutrons, which shattered the boron atoms and tore apart the cancer cells, leaving the healthy ones untouched. The particular boron isotope used has the unique property of splitting into lithium and helium when capturing a neutron, thus facilitating the effect.


"A wide variety of cancers can be attacked with our BNCT technique," Hawthorne said. "The technique worked excellently in mice. We are ready to move on to trials in larger animals, then people. However, before we can start treating humans, we will need to build suitable equipment and facilities.”


Hawthorne was recently awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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