Researchers at the University of Bradford have won a prestigious medical accolade for developing tumour-blasting ‘smart bomb’ technology to treat cancer.

Incanthera Ltd, which was set up by staff at the University’s Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, was named ‘start-up company of the year’ at the Bionow Awards for its work developing a new chemical entity designed to attack all forms of solid tumours while leaving healthy tissue unharmed.

The cost-saving treatment, which targets solid tumour cells directly using a molecule that allows highly-toxic drugs to attack tumours, can improve life expectancy and cause less disruption for patients.

Dr Simon Ward, chief executive officer of Incanthera said: “We hope that this will raise awareness of the vital work the team is doing to provide targeted cancer therapy.

“The award demonstrates the value that the sector places on our research, and we hope to see that research eventually result in an increase in the number of people being successfully treated for cancer with fewer side-effects.”

The Merseyside-based business is backed by the University of Bradford, where its academic founders are supported by Yorkshire Cancer Research and Cancer Research UK.

It has also secured investment from SPARK Impact, managers of the North West Fund for Biomedical, and has raised cash from individuals who want to fund research into improving the chances of surviving cancer.

The oncology firm is close to hitting its target of raising the £3 million it needs to fund its clinical activities and hopes to start its first clinical trial at St James’s Hospital in Leeds next year.

Dr Penny Attridge, of SPARK Impact, said: “Incanthera has a clear strategy and an excellent team, and I’m sure this award will be the first of many.”