Curing Cancer in Columbia?
"Mizzou has the reactor here," said Hawthorne. "It's a better reactor than the MIT one, it's twice as powerful and I consider it more safely run."
The idea behind BNCT is a boron particle is sent into a cell, then it's followed up by a neutron. The combination causes that singular cell to commit suicide. If that process can be tagged specifically to a cancer cell, you're talking about killing cancer one cell at a time and leaving healthy cells to thrive.
Reactors make those illusive neutrons available, and there's not much competition when it comes to reactors. Mizzou and MIT are the only two university owned weapon grade nuclear reactors in the country.
"This is a genius of a scientist who wants to apply his genius to curing common human diseases," said Bill Crist dean of MU School of Medicine. "So cancer watch out, that's what I say."
Dr. Hawthorne is honest about the fact that anticipating a cure for cancer in the near future is unrealistic. He said there are just too many unknown factors. Along with cancer, BNCT will also be effective in treating some forms of arthritis. Hawthorne will be setting up his lab in the next few months, with research up and running in Columbia within a year.