The method, produced at the University of Bath, England, involves using tiny fibres and beads soaked in the chemotherapy drug which are then implanted into the cancerous area in the patient's body.
These fibres are bio-degradable and compatible with body tissue, which means they would not be rejected by the patient's body. They gradually turn from solid to liquid, releasing a regular flow of the chemotherapy chemical into the cancer site, and a much lower dose to the rest of the body.
This is a more localised way of killing cancer cells than the current method of injecting the chemical into a cancer sufferer's vein so that it is carried around the body.
As well as reducing the side-effects, the new drug delivery vehicle, known as Fibrasorb, could also cut the numbers of patients who die from the effects of chemotherapy because they need such high doses to tackle their cancer.
The method, developed by Dr Semali Perera, of the University's Department of Chemical Engineering, over the past few years, has successfully gone through preliminary laboratory trials. The first clinical trials on volunteer patients with ovarian cancer in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire could begin in the next few years and, if successful, the technology could be put into general use.
The research team at Bath is collaborating closely with the Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire Cancer Centre and the oncology team at the Royal United Hospital for the design and development of these drug delivery vehicles. This team includes Dr Ed Gilby, one of the most experienced consultant oncologists, surgeons Mr Nicholas Johnson and Mr Kenneth Jaaback, clinical trials experts and specialist nurses such as Tracie Miles.
"Side effects from chemotherapy can be very unpleasant and sometimes fatal," said Dr Perera.
Source:University of Bath