By Alexandra Thompson Senior Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 16:55 BST, 12 June 2019 | Updated: 16:56 BST, 12 June 2019
Scientists have created a 'homing beacon' that could guide chemotherapy drugs directly to a tumour.
The destruction of healthy cells, as well as cancerous ones, is the cause of common chemotherapy side effects, such as hair loss.
But a study has found a new gel injected near nearby to tumours could direct more of the potent drugs to the cancerous site.
When tested on cancer-ridden mice, the gel helped to shrink their tumours while easing chemotherapy's side effects.
Scientists attached a dye to a gel that contained chemicals that target chemotherapy drugs. They injected the gel near the tumours of cancer-ridden mice. The gel 'guided' the drug to the cancerous cells, while sparing the animals' healthy ones. The gel lingered in the rodents' for 35 days (pictured), which would allow for repeated chemotherapy doses to be administered
The gel contains a compound that can be targeted by certain chemicals, which were attached onto the chemotherapy drugs.
The study was carried out by the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
Destroying tumours while sparing healthy cells remains an ongoing challenge cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy targets rapidly growing cells. This includes those found in the roots of hair, which can result in baldness.
It also affects parts of the stomach and brain that detect toxic substances. This may trigger nausea and vomiting as the body tries to rid itself of the 'poison'.
In the past, scientists have tried to guide chemo drugs to tumours by attaching antibodies that bind to proteins on the surface of cancer cells.
However, this resulted in less than one per cent of the drug reaching the tumour.