Affiliation: The Ohio State University, Departmentof Pathology, 165 Hamilton Hall, 1645 Neil Avenue, Columbus, Ohio43210, USA.
Boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) is based on the nuclear capture and fission reactions that occur when non-radioactive boron-10 is irradiated with low energy thermal neutrons to yield high linear energy transfer (LET) alpha particles (4He) and recoiling lithium -7(7Li) nuclei. For BNCT to be successful, a sufficient number of 10B atoms (∼ 109 atoms/cell) must be selectively delivered to the tumor and enough thermal neutrons must be absorbed by them to sustain a lethal 10B(n, α) 7Li capture reaction. BNCT primarily has been used to treat patients with brain tumors, and more recently those with head and neck cancer. Two low molecular weight (LMW) boron delivery agents currently are being used clinically, sodium borocaptate and boronophenylalanine. However, a variety of high molecular weight (HMW) agents consisting of macromolecules and nanovehicles have been developed. This review will focus on the latter which include: monoclonal antibodies, dendrimers, liposomes, dextrans, polylysine, avidin, folic acid, and epidermal and vascular endothelial growth factors (EGF and VEGF). Procedures for introducing boron atoms into these HMW agents and their chemical properties will be discussed. In vivo studies on their biodistribution will be described, and the efficacy of a subset of them, which have been used for BNCT of tumors in experimental animals, will be discussed. Since brain tumors currently are the primary candidates for treatment by BNCT, delivery of these HMW agents across the blood-brain barrier presents a special challenge. Various routes of administration will be discussed including receptor-facilitated transcytosis following intravenous administration, direct intratumoral injection and convection enhanced delivery by which a pump is used to apply a pressure gradient to establish bulk flow of the HMW agent during interstitial infusion. Finally, we will conclude with a discussion relating to issues that must be addressed if these HMW agents are to be used clinically.