Lung cancer treatment could be aided by the identification of a molecule which may be behind the spread of the tumours.
Scientists at Mayo Clinic in the US, found that matrix metaloproteinase (MMP-10) has to be present for the growth of new cancer stem cells – which are often resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
The team found that by inhibiting this enzyme they could stop tumours spreading.
Commenting on the report, Dr Gillian Murphy for the Cambridge Research Institute said: "This is the first indication that [the molecules] don't just control processes in the tissues surrounding a tumour, but actually might control cancer cell behaviour."
She added that the next step will be to ascertain exactly what role MMP plays in tumour regulation.
According to Cancer Research UK, lung cancer is one of the most difficult forms of the disease to treat due to its propensity to spread and is responsible for around one in five cancer-related deaths