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An experimental method that can kill up to 95 per cent of cancer cells in two hours may tremendously help people with inoperable or hard-to-reach tumours, as well as young children stricken with cancer, a study suggests.
The newly patented method to kill cancer cells has been developed by Matthew Gdovin, Associate Professor at University of Texas at San Antonio.
The new treatment involves injecting a chemical compound, nitrobenzaldehyde, into the tumour and allowing it to diffuse into the tissue.
He then aims a beam of light at the tissue, causing the cells to become very acidic inside and, essentially, commit suicide.
With this method, Gdovin estimated, up to 95 per cent of the targeted cancer cells die withing two hours.
The study was published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"Even though there are many different types of cancers, the one thing they have in common is their susceptibility to this induced cell suicide," Gdovin said.
Gdovin tested his method against triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive types of cancer and one of the hardest to treat.
After one treatment in the laboratory, he was able to stop the tumor from growing and double chances of survival in mice.
Gdovin hopes that his non-invasive method will help cancer patients with tumors in areas that have proven problematic for surgeons, such as the brain stem, aorta or spine.
It could also help people who have received the maximum amount of radiation treatment and can no longer cope with the scarring and pain that goes along with it, or children who are at risk of developing mutations from radiation as they grow older.
"There are so many types of cancer for which the prognosis is very poor," he said.
"We're thinking outside the box and finding a way to do what for many people is simply impossible," Gdovin said.