A one-two punch combo of drugs may be the best way to knock out cancer, research suggests.
Scientists have developed a twin nanoparticle drug delivery system that sensitises cancer cells and then kills them.
In tests, the treatment destroyed cancers that survived if they were not "softened up" first.
The team working on the technology believe it may offer a way to overcome resistance to cancer chemotherapy.
The system uses microscopic particles with a DNA-damaging "cytotoxic" drug at their core and a sensitising drug in their outer surface membrane.
The sensitising drug first rapidly renders cancer cells vulnerable to the DNA-busting drug before the main weapon is unleashed afterward.
Tests showed that when mice with cancer were just exposed to the cytotoxic compound, their tumours continued to grow. Tumour size was only reduced when the two drugs were used together.
The research, which is led by Paula Hammond, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, has been published online in the journal 'Science Signalling'.
The scientists wrote: "The efficacy of these staggered release nanoparticle systems containing a small molecule inhibitor with a cytotoxic agent presents a new therapeutic option for cancer therapy."