There is a potential new approach to treat tumours using a chemical you probably wouldn’t suspect but most likely have heard of.

The new technique is very similar to an already existing approach called ethanol ablation, which if you were wondering why it sounds familiar, is more commonly known as alcohol. One of the great things about ethanol is that when compared the cost of surgery, it is relatively much cheaper in the region of $5.

A team of researchers from Duke University has developed a treatment which widens ethanol’s applications for various different cancers. Currently, ethanol ablation can only be used for specific cancers, due to the risk that it may leak into the body. However, the researchers created an ethanol based gel by mixing ethanol with ethyl cellulose. When this solution is injected into a watery tumour site, it becomes a gel which is confident to its initial injection site.

To examine the solution’s capabilities, hamsters with squamous cell carcinoma in their cheek pouches were injected with either the ethanol ablation or the ethanol based gel. Results for the ethanol ablation were not good. After seven days, 0 of 5 tumours regressed completely. The results for the ethanol gel were far superior. After seven days, 6 of 7 tumours regressed completely, with the last regression by the eighth day.

This study has only been a proof of concept but with a 100% cure rate, one can’t help but get excited. This treatment is far cheaper to produce with the potential to be changed to have possible benefits for breast cancers and cervical precancerous lesions.

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