Scientists in Israel have announced a world-first cancer breakthrough, saying they have destroyed cancerous cells in mice using Nobel Prize-winning technology.
The CRISPR Cas-9 gene editing system allows scientists to make precise alterations to DNA.
Creators Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year for their research.
Now scientists from Tel Aviv University have used the system to treat cancer in animals, according to Professor Dan Peer whose peer-reviewed paper was published in the Science Advances journal.
Peer, the Director of the Laboratory of Precision NanoMedicine at the university, described the process as a "more elegant chemotherapy" and told the Times of Israel there are "no side effects".
"We believe that a cancer cell treated in this way will never become active again," he said.
"This technology can extend the life expectancy of cancer patients and we hope, one day, cure the disease," Peer said
He added that the technique can destroy a tumour within three treatments.
"This technology can physically cut the DNA in cancerous cells, and those cells will not survive."
Peer said he hopes the process will eventually replace chemotherapy - an aggressive form of treatment that can have serious side effects for patients.
Chemotherapy is administered to the whole body.
Peer said his team plans to develop a treatment for all cancers, with human use expected in two years.
The research involved mice with two of the most aggressive types of cancer - glioblastoma, a brain cancer, and metastatic ovarian cancer.
The mice that received treatment were found to have double the life expectancy of the control group, with a 30 per cent higher survival rate, Science Advances reported.
CRISPR Cas-9 is currently only used for rare diseases on cells that have already been removed from the body.
Treatment would be personalised to each patient based on a biopsy. An injection - general or directly into the tumour - would be administered, Peer said.
He said that the injection consists of messenger RNA that "encodes" the "tiny scissor function" for snipping the DNA, a system for identifying cancerous cells and a lipid nanoparticle.
"When we first spoke of treatments with messenger RNA twelve years ago, people thought it was science fiction," Peer said.
"I believe that in the near future, we will see many personalised treatments based on genetic messengers, for cancer and various genetic diseases.
"The technology needs to be further developed, but the main thing is we have shown that this can kill cancer cells."