Scientists have invented a stimulus-sensitive polymer that can change from liquid to gel, aiding the delivery of treatment to solid tumors.
Developers believe the gel will be use for the treatment of inoperable tumors of the liver, pancreas, and other organs.
To treat a tumor, the polymer would be mixed with a drug or a radiotherapy isotope and then injected into the tumor.
It would instantly turn to gel in response to body heat - meaning that it would stay fixed in the tumor.
The polymer has been developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy in Richland, Washington, USA.
Researchers said preliminary tests showed the polymer could successfully hold therapeutic isotopes in place and was compatible with beta- and gamma-emitting isotopes.
They also showed that the substance was probably benign, although long-term studies of its toxicity were needed, the researchers said.
Researcher Anna Gutowska said: "Stimuli-sensitive gels show promise for the effective treatment of inoperable tumors.
"While much more research remains to be done before this becomes an accepted medical procedure, we are very excited about its potential."
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