Australian researchers, coordinating with teams from Germany, have trialed genetically-modified algae loaded with chemotherapy drugs and found that they destroy 90% of cancer cells while leaving healthy ones intact.
The technique, using GM diatom algae, has the potential for treating brain tumours.
Chemotherapy drugs are effectively 'hidden' in the algae and they are also engineered to produce anti-body proteins on their surface that bind only with cancerous cells.
Nico Voelcker, part of the research team from the University of South Australia explained: "Anti-cancer chemotherapeutic drugs are often toxic to normal tissues. So, to minimise the off-target toxicity, the drugs can be hidden inside the antibody-coated nanoparticles.
"Although it is still early days, this novel drug delivery system based on a bio-technologically tailored, renewable material holds a lot of potential for the therapy of solid tumours including currently untreatable brain tumours."