New advance in targeted chemo

In collaboration with the Press Association

Researchers are developing a new way of targeting cancer cells with chemotherapy while leaving healthy tissue unharmed.

The approach allows chemotherapy drugs to reach both healthy and cancerous tissue, as it does in non-targeted treatment.

But unlike standard chemotherapy, the drugs have been altered to make them alkaline. This allows healthy cells to isolate and neutralise them.

Tumour cells are unable to deal with the alkaline drugs however, meaning that they get hit with the full strength of the chemotherapy.

The approach has been piloted with several cancer drugs and has enjoyed some success in early-stage testing, but further work will be required to develop the technique, said researchers at the University of Kansas.

The technique would be well suited for widespread use they add, as it is relatively straightforward and requires no highly advanced or technical means of delivery.

"The approach is completely different from previous attempts that were designed to deliver drugs only to cancer cells and not normal cells," said researcher Dr Jeffrey Krise.

"It could allow cancer patients to tolerate higher and more effective doses of chemotherapy before normal cells are damaged to an extent that causes serious side effects and cessation of therapy.

"Importantly, this technology can also be used to modify existing drugs and increase their selectivity," he added.

The research is published in the June issue of the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

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