A new injection shows promise to reduce cancer treatment side effects and improve cancer cure rates, researchers say.
Injecting drugs into the arteries of cancer patients, instead of veins, could be more effective in reaching head and neck cancer tumours, a study found.
Engineers and scientists at the University of Glasgow and NHS Lothian said the approach, if successful in potential human trials next year, could also be applied to other cancers, the Scotsman reported.
Generally, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are administered through a "drip" in the arm, spreading the chemotherapy drugs throughout the patient's body, including the cancer cells.
But chemotherapy is rarely suggested as a sole treatment for head and neck cancer because of its toxicity and very low probability of cure.
The researchers of the computational fluid dynamics (cfd) group in Glasgow University's School of Engineering, have been working to come up with a new method of using intra-arterial delivery.
This would focus chemotherapy drugs in the area around the tumour, with lower doses for the organs vulnerable to toxicity.
It is expected that this method would result in higher cure rates and fewer side-effects.
Dr Manosh Paul, who led the flow-modelling research team, applied fluid dynamics techniques to model the distribution and concentration of chemotherapy drugs around a head and neck tumour.
"Something injected into the vein goes to the heart, then to the cancer. But when injected into the artery, it goes to the cancer first. Our goal is to prove this is better," he said.
"There are some sub-arteries you could block during treatment to help focus the chemotherapy. The computer model is working."
This work runs in parallel with lab studies looking at cancer cells to determine the dose required for each patient. The computer model then prescribes the ideal delivery method to achieve each patient's dose.