A patient's own cancer tissue could potentially be used to produce a light-triggered vaccine to target and treat their tumour.
Cancer cells may be used to fight the disease
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses light to activate anti-cancer drugs, but has also been shown to stimulate the body's immune system to fight the disease.
Researchers used the technique to treat mice tumour cells, and inject them back into the animal to fight disease.
The Canadian research features in the British Journal of Cancer.
PHOTO DYNAMIC THERAPY
A relatively new type of treatment with a chemical that makes the skin cells sensitive to light
The chemical can be introduced by injecting a drug called a photosensitising agent into the bloodstream
Or it can be applied to the skin in a cream
The drug is absorbed by the body's cells and makes them sensitive to light
When the area to be treated is exposed to laser light, the cells die off.
Researchers have already tried to harness the immune system effect of PDT to develop a vaccine by treating cancer cells grown in the lab.
The latest work, by the Brtish Columbia Cancer Agency, takes the work one stage further by using cells taken directly from the tumour itself.
They found this method was every bit as effective as using lab-grown cancer cells.
It is potentially much faster, cutting out the time-consuming cell culture process.
And more importantly it has the potential to produce a more profound effect, as the resulting vaccine should act against the specific proteins of the cancer itself.
Researcher Dr Mladen Korbelik said: "The prospect of using samples from a patient's own tumour to treat them is really exciting.
"This technique could mean that treatment is delivered more quickly and, most importantly, is tailored to the individual's cancer.
"Although our results showed this method produces powerful cancer vaccines, we are confident that this technique can be advanced further to be even more potent and effective."
Dr Lesley Walker, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said: "This is an interesting application of PDT.
"Using targeted treatments with better delivery and manipulating the body's own immune system to fight the disease means patients would experience fewer side effects.
"Although this type of vaccine is in its early stages, developing existing techniques in this way could provide us with more effective treatments in the future."