Boffins at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research have found that drug-resistant melanoma and colon cancer cells can be successfully treated using a combination of two new drugs.
With the help of a mouse model of the disease, scientists combined a cancer inhibitor drug, which slows cancer cells' growth, with a drug that harnesses the body's cell-killing machinery to induce the death of the cancer cells.
Cancerous melanoma and colon carcinoma cells survive because the body's internal mechanism for killing cancer cells - known as apoptosis - can no longer counteract dangerous mutations.
Dr Clare Scott, who along with Professor Andreas Strasser and Dr Mark Cragg led the scientific team, said scientists were hoping the entire treatment may be orally delivered in the future, sparing some patients the pain of chemotherapy.
"Over the next few years, we'll understand the Achilles heel in the tumours better and can specifically choose an inhibitory drug to direct the death drug to the cancer cell in a very specific way," theage.com.au quoted Scott, as saying.
"The combination is much less toxic because it can be given in low doses," the expert added.
Scientists hope to introduce human clinical trials of the combination therapy in several years, after each drug undergoes separate trials.