Research Rookies look at potential cancer-destroying molecule

Dan Jeffries

By Lauren Dielman

A unit used in PET-scans might someday be turned into a molecule that can destroy cancer.

Dan Jeffries, freshman biochemistry major, and his mentor Narayan Hosmane, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will be working on turning this molecule into a cancer-eliminating one throughout their Research Rookies project.

Hosmane said a lot of their research will depend on boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT). BNCT is a form of radiotherapy where a neutron beam communicates with the boron that was injected into the patient.

“This particular research is aimed toward exploring means for a more selective and efficient drug delivery system for boron neutron capture therapy,” Hosmane said,

Hosmane said there are many methods available that introduce boron compounds into cancer cells, but they each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Hosmane and Jeffries are trying to find a certain aspect within the drug delivery system that could work well with BNCT. Ultimately, if everything goes according to plan, this could lead to the destruction of cancer cells.

Hosmane said he and Jeffries will be trying to “synthesize a carborane-appended analog of glutamic acid” and then try to investigate the distinctive biodistribution properties it possesses. Carborane is a compound obtained by substituting carbon for boron and glutamic acid is an amino acid.

Jeffries said he has been given a wonderful opportunity that not all have through his Research Rookies project.

“Being a Research Rookie means you have been given a chance to do something very few underclassmen have the chance to do,” Jeffries said. “It also means you will be presented with a ton of other opportunists that come from this program.”

Hosmane said his role as a mentor in the Research Rookies program is all about guidance for the student.

“As a mentor, I provide direct supervision to the individuals, guide and train them toward the fulfillment of the program as an immediate task and, eventually, to make sure that they will be successful in real life,” Hosmane said.