New cancer treatment could be developed due to the discovery of a new cellular process.
Scientists at the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre at the city's university observed the two proteins that work in tandem to instigate the spread of a tumour.
Current treatment methods target the FAK protein leaving high amounts of the second protein SRC in the cell. In theory, the high concentration of SRC should be toxic to the cancer cell and ultimately result in its death.
However, the new research has discovered that the tumour cells break down the protein and dispose of it before it can become lethal.
Doctors now believe that a dual approach is needed.
"Combining drugs already in development, which block a protein called FAK, with techniques to stop cancer cells removing excess toxic SRC, would kill them," said author of the study, professor Margaret Frame.
According to Macmillan, around 90 per cent of all tumours develop in epithelial cells, which cover the surfaces of the body's major organs.