EDMONTON -- Researchers at the University of Alberta say they have discovered a new class of drugs that could help in the fight against cancer.

Initial studies have shown that the drug can prevent cancer cells from repairing themselves after they are damaged by radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

“For patients with resistant cancer, this drug could rescue them by rendering their cancer once again treatable,” said Fred West, professor in the Department of Chemistry and co-director of the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta in a written release.

“For patients who have not developed resistance, it could permit the use of lower, safer doses of chemotherapy, which would greatly reduce the serious side effects that accompany many types of chemotherapy treatment.”

The research team is currently focusing on colorectal and lung cancer, but they hope to apply the drug to many different forms of cancer in the future.

Researchers hope to start preclinical studies as early as 2020.

The project was made possible by a $2.9-million grant from the Alberta Cancer Foundation.