A new treatment for mesothelioma called Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) is currently being developed in Italy. In this article, we discuss how the new treatment works, and the potential it has to help mesothelioma patients.

What is Boron Neutron Capture Therapy?

BNCT uses Boron – a vital trace mineral that benefits the normal growth and vital health of the body – to destroy mesothelioma cells. So far, the treatment has been used on mice and the results have been promising. In mice treated with BNCT, mesothelioma tumours shrunk by between 80 and 85% as a result of the treatment.

How is the therapy administered?

The therapy is a two-stage treatment.

In stage one, the patient is injected with a drug that contains the non-radioactive isotope, boron-10. This becomes more concentrated in cancer cells than healthy cells.

In stage two, the patient receives epithermal neutron radiation. The neutrons are absorbed by the boron. The boron then emits high-energy charged particles that kill the cancer cells. Provided the mesothelioma cell has absorbed enough of the boron, the BNCT kills the cell.

The treatment has potential

Mesothelioma is a very difficult cancer to treat. This is because the mesothelial cells are uneven in shape and are often in locations that are difficult to treat. The preliminary results of this study are very encouraging. The treatment appears to destroy the mesothelial cells whilst minimising the damage to other cells and organs.

This is in contrast to treatments such as chemotherapy, which is often toxic to the body and damaging to healthy cells.

The author of the study, Diego Alberti, wrote: “Tumor masses of boron-treated mice showed a drastic reduction of about 80 to 85%. The obtained results appear very promising, providing patients affected by this rare disease with an improved therapeutic option.”

How can we help?

If you require assistance in pursuing a mesothelioma compensation claim, or believe you have a valid claim for any other asbestos disease, please contact us today. You can do so by calling 0800 038 6767, or by filling in our contact form.


Alberti, D, “An innovative therapeutic approach for malignant mesothelioma treatment based on the use of Gd/Boron multimodal probes for MRI guided BNCT,” May 3, 2018, Journal of controlled release, Epub ahead of print

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