Melbourne, Nov 24 : Scientists from Alfred Hospital are pioneering a new technique that 'zaps' away tumours using electrical pulses.
The novel technique involves inserting two thin needles into the body to surrounding the tumour, followed by 90 pulses of high-voltage electricity passed through the tumour over 45 seconds.
The technique could successfully destroy tumours within a fortnight with little or no damage in animal models.
The research team is currently testing the new approach in patients with liver and kidney cancer.
The Alfred's professor of radiology, Ken Thomson, said that he was extremely excited about the potential for removing tumours that would previously have needed risky surgery and left the patient weak and in pain.
"It has enormous potential," the Age quoted him as saying.
While using the new technique, Thomson revealed that that the patients needed to be sedated at the time because otherwise the shock would "jump them off the table".
All three cases encountered no safety issues and scans of the first liver patient have shown the tumour rapidly shrinking as the body carries away the dead tissue and replaces it with healthy, non-cancerous tissue.
Professor Thomson said the hospital wanted to rigorously test the technique for safety, before moving on to trials that proved its effectiveness.
He admitted that it was too early to announce a cure, but insisted that the results so far were very promising.