Scientists develop bomb pill for cancer


By Cara Sulieman

SCIENTISTS are developing a new stealth pill to treat cancer.

They plan to use a tiny capsule to carry a ‘bomb’ laden with drugs into the body before exploding it near to the tumour.

Dundee University is the main player in the development of the super-pill which aims to minimise the side effects of treatment.

A small capsule full of chemotherapy is injected into the body and tracked on its route to the tumour.

Fewer side effects

When it is in place, an ultrasound will make it explode, releasing the drugs directly next to the cancerous tissue.

Less healthy tissue will be damaged as the blast is so close to its target, unlike traditional drug delivery.

And patients would suffer fewer side effects as a result.

Professor Andreas Melzer, from the University of Dundee, said: “All of the established methods of cancer treatment have significant drawbacks, in that they cause side effects, require invasive procedures or do not deliver their therapeutic effect in an effective manner.

“High concentration”

“The aim with all cancer treatment is to target the specific area of the tumour and remove it while causing as little damage to surrounding tissue as possible, and reducing the side-effects of drug treatments.

“The methods we are developing would present a significant improvement in each of those areas, compared to current treatments.

“If we can combine these technologies of ultrasound, MRI and nano-capsules, as well as micro-bubbles, we will be able to release proven anti-cancer drugs in high concentration only in the area where they are required.

“The project partners have existing technology in each of the areas we are looking at. What we need to do is combine the best of it to create a new system which can deliver this very effective model of treatment.”

Key knowledge

The project has £1.7 million behind it and has been funded for four years by the European Union.

Two innovative companies are joining the university in their research – providing key knowledge and equipment to make it work.

CapsuTech is a pharmaceutical company that specialises in the capsules that will be used for the work.

And InSightec will be providing the technology that tracks the pill’s journey through the body.

The images they can capture will also allow scientists to monitor the reaction to the treatment.