A group of British lung cancer patients will receive pioneering stem cell therapy as part of clinical trials, which, if successful, could transform lung cancer treatment and offer hope to lung cancer patients.

The new treatment works by using genetically modified bone marrow stem cells which locate and destroy cancer cells. The modified cells attach themselves to tumours triggering a ‘suicide pathway’ in cancer cells, and could offer an alternative and more successful method of treatment compared with chemotherapy.

The trial, led by researchers at the University College hospital in London and funded by the Medical Research Council, has proven successful in reducing tumours in mice, but has not yet been tested on humans.

The trial will begin early next year and will involve a group of 56 patients diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. Patients with this form of advanced lung cancer would only usually be offered palliative care or treatment to help extend their lives by a few months.

Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK. Over 40,000 people are diagnosed every year, however only five per cent of patients survive 10 years beyond their diagnosis.

This news comes as scientists announced a development in diagnosing aggressive forms of breast cancer earlier this week by identifying ‘stem cell’ like cancer genes in breast cancer patients.

Roberta Pyle, a senior clinical negligence solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Newcastle office, said: “This new therapy has so far proved effective in trials but the key will be if similar results are produced when it’s rolled out to lung cancer patients next year.

“Lung cancer is an aggressive form of cancer, and new and alternative treatments for patients who have been dealt a devastating prognosis are desperately needed.

“Early detection and effective treatment is absolutely vital if cancer patients are to have the best chance of survival. We hope that when trialed on human patients this treatment proves to be as effective as the researchers at the University College hospital, London and Medical Research Council have found it to be so far.”