Scientists from Cancer Research UK are developing a drink that is packed with oxygen microbubbles with an aim to provide more potential treatment for hard-to-treat tumours such as pancreatic cancer.
The tumours of pancreatic cancer significantly lack oxygen, thereby providing the patients with very limited options of treatment.
Researchers at the University of Oxford and Ulster University, a public university in Northern Ireland, are investigating ways to re-oxygenate tumours with the drink that can provide extra oxygen to the site of the tumour.
In the laboratory, scientists are trying to find out the ways that oxygen bubbles move from the stomach to pancreatic tumours, and are deciphering whether this can be done by giving patients the equivalent of a bubbly drink.
Cancer Research UK University of Oxford scientist Eleanor Stride 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."
The current methods that are used to oxygenate tumours in patients include keeping patients in oxygen chambers, breathing pure oxygen or injecting liquids full of oxygen directly to the tumour site.
Though these methods have proved to be effective, they can be accompanied with serious side effects that include damage to the surface of the lungs and nervous system.
The new approach of oxygenating tumours with a drink could have fewer risks and be cost-effective, as well as be easily used to boost other treatments.
The current research is funded through the Cancer Research UK Pioneer Awards scheme, which offers up to £200,000 to encourage innovative ideas for cancer treatment.
Image: The bubbly drink can re-oxygenate tumours such as pancreatic cancer in a patient. Photo: courtesy of University of Oxford.