Scientists at Queen's University have collaborated with a local company to develop a new treatment for pancreatic cancer.
The disease is still one of the most difficult cancers to treat.
Latest statistics show that, in the UK alone, almost 10,000 new cases are detected annually and the outlook for patients is bleaker than those suffering other types of cancer.
Researchers at the university are working to design an antibody that specifically targets the surface of the cancer cells.
The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB), along with Belfast-based Fusion Antibodies plc, have secured a prestigious Medical Research Council award to develop the drug.
Professor Dan Longley, chair of molecular oncology at the CCRCB, said it was an important step.
"This approach, called immunotherapy, has been heralded as a game-changing approach for other cancers such as skin melanomas," he explained.
"But new innovations are required to treat pancreatic cancer and this is the focus of our current work."
To create these antibodies the Queen's team will work with therapeutic antibody development specialists Fusion Antibodies plc to develop these prototype molecules.
Professor Chris Scott, chair of pharmaceutical biosciences at CCRCB, added: "Pancreatic cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK.
"Our aim is to develop a new antibody drug that will rearm and trigger the patients' own immune systems to combat the disease."