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Fighting colorectal cancer without the toxic effects of conventional treatment could soon be possible.

Dr Lin Qingsong from the NUS Faculty of Science’s Department of Biological Sciences, as well as Dr Wang Jigang and Professor Shen Han-Ming from NUS Medicine’s Department of Physiology, have found a way to make a promising cancer treatment up to 10 times more effective.

They did this by combining two known substances – anti-malarial drug artemisinin and aminolaevulinic acid, which is already used to treat some cancers, pointing to a potential new way of treating Singapore's top cancer without the conventional options of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which can cause many side effects in patients.

In laboratory studies, the researchers found that combining artemisinin with the acid killed colorectal cancer cells and suppressed tumour growth significantly more than using artemisinin alone.

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