Chinese researchers have made a breakthrough in researching an alternative to chemotherapy that would not kill healthy cells while treating tumors, the China Daily reported Friday.

Conventional cancer chemotherapy involves drugs that can annihilate cancer cells but also healthy cells, causing lower immunity to infection, fatigue and hair loss.

Researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced they have devised a therapy using nanoparticles that can travel around the body and target only tumors, leaving healthy cells unaffected.

“Laboratory testing on mice has shown that tumors shrank by 85 percent after receiving the therapy,” said Shi Jianlin, lead researcher at the institute.

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According to Shi, the nanoparticles, inorganic and nontoxic, will trigger a reaction in the acid environment of a tumour, consuming a large amount of oxygen molecules in the tumour cells and block the vascular system in the tumour cells so as to prevent the supply of oxygen molecules and nutrients from outside.

The researchers said the tumoùr cells will eventually starve to death.

The achievement of the research was published in Chemical Society Reviews in February.

Shi said the research is still at the stage of lab tests, which also proved that the therapies are able to prevent tumour metastasis.