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New Cover in Journal of Materials Chemistry B on Boron clusters as radiosensitizers

The cover illustrates the article "Boron clusters (ferrabisdicarbollides) shaping the future as radiosensitizers for multimodal (chemo/radio/PBFR) therapy of glioblastoma". 

Anna May
19 January 2023
Cover in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B  by graphic designer Carol Briceño
Cover in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B by graphic designer Carol Briceño

The article is about the use of Boron clusters for brain tumor therapy. The study is a collaboration between researchers from the Inorganic Materials & Catalysis (LMI) group and the Nanoparticles & Nanocomposites (NN) group at ICMAB, the University of Lisbon (Portugal), the Universitat Jaume I in Castelló, and the Ruder Boskovic Institut in Croatia.

The results of the in vitro, in vivo, and irradiation studies strongly suggest that the small Boron-based anions studied are prospective candidates to be considered as future radiosensitizers, thus making tumor cells more sensitive to radiotherapy, in the most common and fatal primary brain tumor, gliioblastoma multiforma, therapy through multimodal radiotherapies.

As explained by Miquel Nuez, co-author of the study, "the cover represents the versality of boron cluster-based complexes in order to be used as drug for anticancer multitherapies, including chemo-, radio-therapy and particle therapy. In this article we observe how g-rays and X-ray help reducing the survival of glioblastoma cell lines, adding to the chemotherapeutical effect of the complexes".

"Furthermore, for the first time the proton-boron nuclear fusion reaction was tested as a therapy, which can also add to the chemo- and radio-therapies. In this paper boron neutron capture therapy was not tested, but in similar studies using cobalt boron cluster-complexes, was succesfully tested and, along with the rest of therapies, their effects can be added using multitherapies in order to reduce the doses of radiation, thus improving the life quality of the patient". 

toc cover glioblastoma

Graphical abstract of the article

But why are Boron good candidates as radiosensitizers? Miquel Nuez affirms that they are good "because they can coordinate high z-number elements, such as Fe and Co, and I atoms (or other halogen atoms) can be bonded, which provoke an antennae effect when X-ray or g-ray therapies are applied. Furthermore, regarding particle therapies, metallabis(dicarbollides) are the molecules that contain the highest number of boron atoms per molecule; which react with protons (in the case of boron-11) or neutrons (in the case of boron-10) emitting alpha-particles which, well targeted, can destroy malignant tissue without damaging the healthy one".

"Finally, metallabis(dicarbollides) can coordinate different transition metals and used derivatized clusters as ligands, in order to modify their physicochemical features and bond chemical groups that might be specific for a cell line. To sum up, their versatility in terms of chemistry and treatment make them good candidates to treat tumours".

Article chosen as one of most populars of the journal

The article has been chosen by the journal editors as one of the articles (30 in total) to appear in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B 2022 most popular articles collectionThis collection highlights some of the most cited, most downloaded, or most shared articles and reviews of 2022. 

"I am very happy for this recognition" says researcher Clara Viñas, "and to share this article with all the scientific community".

You can read the full collection here. All articles in this collection have been made free to read until 13 February 2023.

Abstract of the article

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and fatal primary brain tumor, and is highly resistant to conventional radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Therefore, the development of multidrug resistance and tumor recurrence are frequent. Given the poor survival with the current treatments, new therapeutic strategies are urgently needed.

Radiotherapy (RT) is a common cancer treatment modality for this type of brain tumor. However, there is still a need to improve its efficiency, while reducing the severe side effects. Radiosensitizers can enhance the killing effect on tumor cells with less side effects on healthy tissues.

This paper presents a pioneering study on two highly stable and amphiphilic metallacarboranes (ferrabis(dicarbollides) ([o-FESAN] and [8,8′-I2-o-FESAN])) as potential radiosensitizers for brain tumor radiotherapy.

The authors propose radiation methodologies that utilize secondary radiation emissions from iodine and iron, using ferrabis(dicarbollides) as iodine/iron donors, aiming to achieve a greater therapeutic effect than that of a conventional radiotherapy.

As a proof-of-concept, authors show that using 2D and 3D models of U87 cells, the cellular viability and survival were reduced using this treatment approach.

The results from the cellular damage response obtained suggest that proton boron fusion radiation therapy, when combined with boron-rich compounds, is a promising modality to fight against resistant tumors. Although these results are encouraging, more developments are needed to further explore these compounds as radiosensitizers towards a positive impact on the therapeutic strategies for gliobastoma multiforme.

Read more in the article, free access until 13 Feb!


Boron clusters (ferrabisdicarbollides) shaping the future as radiosensitizers for multimodal (chemo/radio/PBFR) therapy of glioblastoma
J. Mater. Chem. B, 2022,10, 9794-9815


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