Australian scientists said Friday (11th of May 2007) they have developed a cancer treatment which could deliver lethal doses of drugs to tumours without the usual harmful side-effects such as nausea and hair loss.
Research scientist Jennifer MacDiarmid said the cutting-edge technique uses nanotechnology to create particles which directly attack cancer cells with a "lethal payload" of drugs, without flooding the body with toxic chemicals.
Treatments such as chemotherapy typically involve subjecting the patient's entire body to the powerful drugs in order to kill the cancer, causing debilitating side-effects that the new, targeted technique would eliminate.
"Your hair wouldn't fall out, you wouldn't throw up... some chemotherapy is life-threatening in itself," MacDiarmid told AFP.
MacDiarmid said scientists at Sydney-based biotechnology company EnGeneIC, where she is a managing director, used a bacteria cell stripped of reproductive powers to develop a particle capable of carrying any chemotherapy drug.
The nano-cell, which is about one-fifth the size of a normal cell, is then tagged with antibodies which are attracted to cancerous tumours. Once the cell hits the cancer, the drug is released directly into the malignant growth.
"There is no other system where you can get so much drug concentrated into a little parcel," MacDiarmid said.
The results of animal trials published this week in the US-based journal Cancer Cell show that the technique has reduced tumours in animals without toxic side-effects and by using only a very small amount of drugs.
MacDiarmid said the treatment could potentially be used on any solid tumours including those in the breasts, ovaries, colon and lungs.
In future, the treatment could allow for the creation of customised drug "cocktails" to be used on patients to counter drug resistance and could lower costs as a smaller amount of drugs would be needed, she said.
The team hopes to start human trials by the end of this year.http://uk.news.yahoo...ia-edb91f1.html