Is a Cure for Cancer Coming?

English: Boron Neutron Capture Therapy for Cancer

Boron Neutron Capture Therapy for Cancer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Way back in the 1930s, scientists discovered an effective way to treat cancer—boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT)—but could never pull it off. Fortunately, the same cannot be said for researchers at the University of Missouri, who may have finally figured it out.

What’s more, their initial tests on animals have successfully forced cancer into remission without all the harmful side effects. Step two will focus on testing larger animals and, if things go well, human tests will begin shortly thereafter.

Basically, Dr. Frederick Hawthorne and his team use nano-chemistry to inject cancer cells with boron, a chemical these cells naturally absorb. Once this is accomplished, the specific area is radiated with neutrons, which cause the cancer cells to break apart and die.

“You kill the cell,” Hawthorne explained. “And you do so quite selectively.”

And while the cancer cells are dying, the surrounding healthy cells remain unaffected. This is a huge advantage over other treatments—like chemotherapy—which can kill cancer cells, but may also target cells in hair follicles, bone marrow or even the digestive tract. That’s why people undergoing chemotherapy could die from just the treatment itself.

If everything falls into place, the large animal tests go well and human trials continue this trend, this new treatment could be available sooner rather than later. And based on some early projections, it could go a long way in treating—and hopefully curing (my words, not theirs)—a variety of different cancers.

Fred Hawthorn

Dr. M. Frederick Hawthorne: The Molecule Master (courtesy of the University of Missouri)

“It stops colon cancer in its tracks,” Hawthorne mentioned. “[And] it should make things much simpler for therapy, pain, ache and discontent the patient goes through while doing therapy.”

If you ask me, this sounds incredibly promising and could end up being a “win-win” in all sorts of ways: treating cancer, making patients’ lives easier… you name it.

The only problem I can see right now—aside from the upcoming tests being unsuccessful, of course—is the delay it might take to get this treatment to market, and thus available to cancer patients. These things never seem to move as quickly as they should, even though more people die from this horrible disease with each passing day.

At the very least, though, this new treatment provides us all—especially cancer patients—with something that is growing increasingly rare in this world, but something that is so important for our collective future: hope.

It’s about time we learn what that feels like again, don’t you think?

Posted on April 18, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I agree, hope is definitely important. They been saying that cures for cancer are right around the corner, hopefully this is it…

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