A research project aiming to cut the side effects of cancer drugs has been launched with a £1 million investment.

UK Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman visited laboratories at the University of Edinburgh in which scientists are working on the new treatments.

They are developing harmless metal implants that will be placed at the tumour site where they locally activate chemotherapy drugs.

The implants will alter the chemical composition of commonly-used chemotherapy drugs so that they only become active when they come into contact with a metal called palladium.

Mr Freeman was in the city to officially launch the project which is receiving more than £1 million from the UK Government.

Scientists in the university's Cancer Research UK Centre at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine will use the investment to develop the treatments.

Professor Jonathan Seckl, vice principal for research at the university, said that while cancer medicine has improved dramatically over recent years, the side effects of current treatments can be "arduous".

He said: "Minimising the adverse effects of chemotherapy is one of the greatest challenges we face today.

"By locating a very talented chemist with the university's leading biologists and outstanding cancer doctors we have been able to come up with innovative new ways to target treatment to the cancer itself with fewer side effects.

"We have made some excellent progress and are confident that, with this generous new support, our efforts will improve the way cancers are treated in the future."

The project is led by chemist Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta, a reader at the university, who works closely with biologists and cancer clinicians to develop new approaches to treating cancer with fewer side effects.