UK researchers are exploring a novel approach to boosting existing cancer therapy, assessing whether oxygenated drinks could increase their potency.
Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at the University of Oxford and Ulster are investigating how to re-oxygenate pancreatic tumours with a drink that delivers extra oxygen to the site of the tumour, thus enabling radiotherapy and chemotherapy "to deliver a knock-out blow".
As the charity explains, tumours adapt to low oxygen conditions to increase their resistance to cancer therapy. It is thought this is because their growth leads to twisted, weak blood vessels that hamper the delivery of essential nutrients such as oxygen, which also makes it increasingly hard for chemotherapy to hit its target.
Current methods of oxygenating tumours in patients includes breathing pure oxygen, putting patients in oxygen chambers or injecting liquids full of oxygen directly to the tumour site. But while these are effective, they can have "quite serious" side effects such asdamage to the surface of the lungs and nervous system.
According to CRUK, the new approach being investigated could "have fewer risks, cost less, and could easily be used to boost other treatments".
"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," noted Professor Eleanor Stride, CRUK scientist at the University of Oxford.
"We've had success in the lab in mice, so we're now looking at how to scale this up for patients."