Cancer treatment could soon be developed that specifically targets the biological processes involved when a cell divides.
Scientists working at Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute discovered that it is a protein that attaches to the cell 'like a belt around a waist" which initiates the process.
Dr Mark Petronczki, the lead author of the study, explained that the Ect2 protein squeezes until this waistline becomes small enough for the cell to split into two identical copies.
"Losing control of the essential process of cell division is one of the fundamental changes leading to cancer," said Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's senior science information manager.
She believes the work will help scientists develop treatments for all different forms of the disease.
There are over 200 types of cancer and the latest figures from the charity show that around 850 people are diagnosed with the illness every day in the UK.