Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Targeted Cancer Treatment

MIT researchers and experts from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are studying a new cancer therapy that could attack malignant cells while sparing healthy ones. Now in advanced clinical trials, the treatment, called neutron capture therapy, could be more accurate and effective than conventional treatment and could reduce side effects. It is being tested on patients with glioblastoma, a virulent form of brain cancer, and two types of melanoma.

Patients are given an intravenous dose of a boron isotope, which concentrates in tumor cells. Then researchers use a beam of neutrons to irradiate the cancerous cells. The boron absorbs the neutrons’ energy and splits into two lethal subatomic particles, which kill the cells in their vicinity. But because the potent subparticles travel only a short distance (about a cell’s length) before they exhaust their kinetic energy, they affect nearby malignant cells almost uniquely.

The trials are taking place at a new facility housed within MIT’s nuclear research reactor lab. It is currently the only facility in the United States that can generate the neutron beam used in the procedure. MIT research scientist Kent Riley says that the trial’s first six patients tolerated the procedure well. However, researchers are still seeking to determine the maximum safe dosages of both neutron radiation and boron injections.


0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Business

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me