Archive for April 9th, 2013

Health News: Cancer Treatment without Side Effects

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

There is some interesting health news coming out of Missouri this week that could change the face of cancer treatment.  According to Healthline News’ Jenara Nerenberg, researchers at the University of Missouri believe they have found a new type of radiation treatment that kills cancer without any known side effects.  In “A Cancer-killing Treatment With No Side Effects?,” the researchers are hoping this new treatment will eliminate the hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and other side effects of traditional chemotherapy and radiation cancer treatments.  So far, research on mice slowed the growth of cancerous tumors significantly without any visible side effects.

Their technique is called boron neutron capture therapy, or BNCT, and it can be used on multiple types of cancers.  The radiation therapy works by sending a boron-based chemical into very absorbent cancer cells.  After the cells take in the chemical, they will be exposed to neutrons which explode the boron atoms inside of the cancer cells.  Cancer cells are destroyed and the surrounding healthy cells are left intact.  The research team led by Professor M. Frederick Hawthorne published their study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research like this often takes years to be implemented into actual treatments, so it is likely far from being introduced to human patients and covered by health insurance companies.  But the article says that Professor Hawthorne is more likely to get his treatment recognized because of some unique circumstances.  President Obama recently recognized him as a National Medal of Science winner.  While there will have to be new equipment and facilities before humans receive this BNCT treatment, The University of Missouri already is home to the biggest university research nuclear reactor in the U.S.  Hawthorne is excited to offer the first radiation treatment of this kind in the world.