The new method uses two 'parent' nanoparticles that are designed to interact only when in proximity to each other and trigger the release of drug molecules contained within both. The release of the drug molecules from the 'parent' nanoparticles could subsequently form a third 'daughter' particle, which comprises molecules from both 'parent' nanoparticles.

"We conceive that in the blood stream, the particles would not be able to interact sufficiently to lead to release only when they are taken into cells would the release be able to happen", said professor Andrew Dove.

In this way, the drug can be targeted to only release where we want it to and, therefore, be more effective and reduce side effects, he added. The new mechanism could potentially limit side effects by only releasing the drug where required.

The research appeared in the journal Nature Communications.

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