Rewriting Life

Boron vs. Cancer

Biomedical researchers would like to be able to deliver chemicals directly to a cell nucleus-cancer therapy being one reason. UCLA chemist Fred Hawthorne may have discovered a chemical “roach motel” that provides entry to but no exit from the nucleus. He found the passageway while trying to get boron-rich compounds into cells in studies of a cancer treatment called boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT). In BNCT, boron atoms interact with neutron beams to create an unstable isotope that blows apart, as if the neutron had tripped a landmine inside the cell.

Hawthorne has designed novel, small molecules called nido-carboranyl oligomeric phosphate diesters-nido-OPDs-that carry boron into cell interiors more effectively than before. Although Hawthorne expected that the small nido-OPDs molecules would diffuse in and out of the nucleus, he found that they accumulated; once the molecules checked in, they didn’t check out. Most were still present in the nucleus 24 hours later, a finding that could help make BNCT a much more effective cancer treatment in the future.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Listen in as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.