Experts are developing a fizzy drink packed with oxygen bubbles to make cancer treatment more potent.
Scientists at the University of Oxford are investigating how to re-oxygenate tumors with a drink that could deliver extra oxygen to the tumor site, allowing radiotherapy and chemotherapy to work the way they are intended to.
‘Radiotherapy and chemotherapy fail due to low oxygen levels in tumors. Oxygenating tumors with a fizzy drink can aid effective cancer treatment.’
Some tumors adapt to harsher, low oxygen conditions and become more resistant to drugs. As the tumors grow, the blood vessels delivering essential nutrients including oxygen become weak. Thus, chemotherapy fails to penetrate the tumor.
Scientists from Cancer Research UK are investigating how oxygen bubbles get from the stomach to pancreatic tumors in the laboratory. They are exploring whether this could be done by giving patients the equivalent of a fizzy drink.
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK, taking the lives of around 8,700 people each year. Pancreatic tumors starve of oxygen, and patients have limited treatment options.
Currently, tumors are oxygenated by injecting liquids full of oxygen directly to the tumor site, and patients were given pure oxygen to breathe or putting patients in oxygen chambers. These methods are effective, but can have side effects such as damage to the surface of the lungs and nervous system.
The new approach to treating tumor with fizzy drinks could have fewer risks, cost less and could easily to used to boost other treatments.
Professor Eleanor Stride, Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Oxford, said, "We're especially excited about the potential this bubbly drink could have for hard to treat cancers like pancreatic cancer, where survival rates are low and better treatments are urgently needed."
"We've had success in the lab in mice, so we're now looking at how to scale this up for patients."