London: In a ray of hope for cancer patients, harmless metal implants at the cancer site can reduce side effects from chemotherapy.
The discovery could make treatment more targeted than existing therapies, avoiding unwanted side effects - such as hair loss, tiredness and nausea.
These occur when chemotherapy drugs carried in the blood kill healthy cells as well as cancer cells.
"We are hopeful that this approach would lead to better tolerated cancer therapies in the future,” said Asier Unciti-Broceta from Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre, who led the study.
The scientists found that they could alter the chemical composition of commonly used chemotherapy drugs so that they only become active when they come into contact with a metal called palladium.
By implanting small devices coated with palladium into patients' tumours, the drugs would become activated only where they are needed, causing minimal damage to the rest of the body.
The research, led by scientists from the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre at the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, was published in the journal Nature Communications.