Boranes (boron and hydrogen compounds) and carboranes (boron, hydrogen and carbon) have great potential in the treatment of cancer. In proton boron capture therapy (PBCT), boranes are introduced into a cancer cell, which is irradiated with protons to produce “therapeutic” alpha α radiation, which is released locally from the borane.
“This simple and locally carried out nuclear reaction, which conditions the existence of PBCT, thus guarantees that the surrounding tissue is not damaged,” said Drahomír Hnyk from the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry.
On behalf of the Academy of Sciences, scientists from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry also took part in the research.
Newly discovered carborane cations
Newly discovered carborane cations could also be used in therapy. Experiments in the field of PBCT, in cooperation with the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of the ASCR and the Prague Proton Center, have so far been based on the use of negatively charged boranes. However, positively charged carboranes could increase the effectiveness of this evolving treatment method.
“These fundamentally new materials can make a significant contribution where the transition to the environment can be much easier for cations – for example, across the cell membrane using so-called ion channels,” described Hnyk.
“Until now, boranes have only been known as uncharged or negatively charged chemical compounds,” he added.
Boranes are a product of human activity
Carbon forms hydrocarbons with hydrogen, from which living organisms are formed and is found in nature, among other things, in the form of oil. However, boron compounds with hydrogens, i.e. boranes, are a product of human activity.
“Isotope 11B is able to emit alpha radiation after reaction with protons, in boranes or carboranes it is 80 percent. The more boron atoms in the form of boranes or carboranes get into the cell, the better, ”said Hnyk.
While carbon, together with hydrogen, forms long, often branched chains and cyclic formations, boranes form three-dimensional structural arrangements. Boron can thus be replaced in these structures by other elements, including carbon.
Researchers from the Academy of Sciences collaborated on the research with a team from the University of Pardubice, led by Aleš Růžička, and Auburn University in Alabama. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.