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COLUMBIA – A researcher at the University of Missouri has discovered a potential new set of materials that can aid in cancer therapy treatments.

Dr. Mark W. Lee, Jr. is an assistant chemistry professor and said the materials also help improve diagnostic tools for cancer and other diseases.

“There is a myriad of uses for these new materials, such as biomedical imaging, or the study of cancer,” said Lee.

The tests used to discover these helpful materials, known as boranes, came through extreme heat testing, which helps ensure the materials are non-toxic. These materials are attractive to researchers because of their resistance to heat, and are much more useful to the general public in terms of treatment.

Dr. Lee has worked at the University of Missouri since 2006 and been the assistant professor of chemistry since 2012. Lee says the discovery has been one of the best of his career.

“I was trying to do something entirely different and I recognized that the entire reaction failed but in the process of analyzing the products I saw that something unusual was happening so I watched what was happening to create a new class of molecule,” said Lee.

The ability to help treat cancer is the most exciting development of the findings Lee said. Lee and his fellow researchers are hoping this can be a step in making cheaper, more potent cancer treatments.

“We are using these clusters to design better drugs. We have already published on this, that we have exceptionally potent anti-cancer agents that are literally a million times more potent than what is used today,” said Lee.

The new materials discovered are designed to help make better drugs, not just for cancer treatment, but for other diseases as well.

“It’s a new class of chemistry that we have never seen before so it will be exciting to see where it goes from here,” Lee added.