The researchers say that the therapy uses a nanocell, dubbed the ‘Trojan horse’, which can destroy drug-resistant cancer cells.
The Sydney scientists say they’ve developed world-first technology to fight the biggest threat to the long-term survival of cancer patients: cancer cells that develop a resistance to chemotherapy drugs.
The technique involves sending in a so-called ‘Trojan horse’ nanocell – derived from bacteria – into the cancer cell to switch off the drug-resistant protein.
“Once it’s outside the front door of the cancer cell, it will then lock onto the cancer cell because it’s got the specific-targetting and will be swallowed by the cancer cell, and once inside, spill its contents and the cancer cell really commits suicide” Dr Jennifer Macdiarmid said.
A second wave of nanocells then carry in the chemotherapy drug to kill the cancer cells.
The researchers say it’s worked with mice, dogs and monkeys.
The first small human trials are due to start at three Melbourne Hospitals in the next few months.
The scientists say that if the human trials mirror the success of animal trials, it could change the one-size-fits all approach to chemotherapy treatment.
They say that the new treatment should be cheaper, because it uses smaller drug doses, as well as avoiding side effects, like hair loss.
“We are bombarding the body, with various drugs consequently we are knocking down a lot of normal cells as well as cancer cells, Dr Himanshu Brahmbatt said.
The Cancer Council says the technology provides hope for progress in treating patients.
“If you can overcome drug resistance and also deliver higher doses drug directly to the cell that pushes through that barrier that faces cancer therapy at the moment,” Dr Andrew Penman, from Cancer Council NSW said.
The researchers say it’s critical to constantly keep thinking of new ways to attack cancer cells, in order to win the battle against the disease.