Novel form of radiotherapy promises to be safe from side effects of blood-cancer treatment.
If the trials are successful, the highly targeted radiotherapy can be given at much greater doses to destroy cancerous cells in the bone marrow without harming healthy cells.
In fact, Pauline Pain, 58, from the Isle of Wight, who has a cancer of the blood called multiple myeloma, has become the first patient in the world to receive the radiotherapy.
Pain could return home after her radiotherapy so that she could go for her bone marrow transplant later.
On the other hand, a conventional total body irradiation would have meant a long stay in hospital.
"The only side-effects were a little temporary tiredness and mild sickness; other than that I felt very, very well. It was incredible to be walking around knowing that something inside me was fighting the cancer, but I couldn't feel it at all," the Telegraph quoted Pain as saying.
She added: "The beauty of it was that I had the big dose of radiotherapy in the morning and I was at home by 5pm the same evening." The two-year trial at Southampton General Hospital will involve 80 patients, half of whom will receive the new radiotherapy with chemotherapy and the other half will have chemotherapy alone.
Doctors have revealed that the early results are "very encouraging."
The new radiotherapy kills the cancer cells in the system before a transplant of healthy stem cells so that it can replace ones that are lost.
However, an equivalent amount of traditional radiotherapy would cause severe or even fatal damage to the body, and may even prove toxic to the liver and kidneys.
But the healthy tissue is not affected as the new system produces a radioisotope that attaches only to the surface of cancer cells.
While the treatment is being tested on patients with multiple myeloma, it may be extended to other cancers of the blood and bone marrow such as leukaemia.
"Radiotherapy is used to clear the bone marrow of myeloma cells before a stem-cell transplant. Current treatment uses high doses of radiation, which are delivered by X-rays, but the sensitivity of healthy organs limits the dose that can be tolerated," Dr Kim Orchard, a senior lecturer at the University of Southampton's School of Medicine who is leading the trial, said.
"Previous attempts to use antibodies to deliver the radioactivity have been frustrated by their accumulation in the liver, lungs and kidneys, which can cause grave complications. The key to this new treatment is that the antibody accumulates only in the bone marrow.
"We hope that the trial will show a clear benefit in better and longer remissions from myeloma. If we are successful, this approach offers great promise for the treatment of a range of other blood cancers," Dr Orchard added.