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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Boron neutron capture therapy of brain tumors: an emerging therapeutic modality.

Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) is based on the nuclear reaction that occurs when boron-10, a stable isotope, is irradiated with low-energy thermal neutrons to yield alpha particles and recoiling lithium-7 nuclei. For BNCT to be successful, a large number of 10B atoms must be localized on or preferably within neoplastic cells, and a sufficient number of thermal neutrons must be absorbed by the 10B atoms to sustain a lethal 10B (n, alpha) lithium-7 reaction. There is a growing interest in using BNCT in combination with surgery to treat patients with high-grade gliomas and possibly metastatic brain tumors. The present review covers the biological and radiobiological considerations on which BNCT is based, boron-containing low- and high-molecular weight delivery agents, neutron sources, clinical studies, and future areas of research. Two boron compounds currently are being used clinically, sodium borocaptate and boronophenylalanine, and a number of new delivery agents are under investigation, including boronated porphyrins, nucleosides, amino acids, polyamines, monoclonal and bispecific antibodies, liposomes, and epidermal growth factor. These are discussed, as is optimization of their delivery. Nuclear reactors currently are the only source of neutrons for BNCT, and the fission reaction within the core produces a mixture of lower energy thermal and epithermal neutrons, fast or high-energy neutrons, and gamma-rays. Although thermal neutron beams have been used clinically in Japan to treat patients with brain tumors and cutaneous melanomas, epithermal neutron beams now are being used in the United States and Europe because of their superior tissue-penetrating properties. Currently, there are clinical trials in progress in the United States, Europe, and Japan using a combination of debulking surgery and then BNCT to treat patients with glioblastomas. The American and European studies are Phase I trials using boronophenylalanine and sodium borocaptate, respectively, as capture agents, and the Japanese trial is a Phase II study. Boron compound and neutron dose escalation studies are planned, and these could lead to Phase II and possibly to randomized Phase III clinical trials that should provide data regarding therapeutic efficacy.[1]


  1. Boron neutron capture therapy of brain tumors: an emerging therapeutic modality. Barth, R.F., Soloway, A.H., Goodman, J.H., Gahbauer, R.A., Gupta, N., Blue, T.E., Yang, W., Tjarks, W. Neurosurgery (1999) [Pubmed]
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