London: In a major breakthrough, scientists have discovered that blocking a rogue gene with the right drugs could halt cancer in its tracks.
The culprit gene, known as WWP2, attacks and breaks down a natural inhibitor which normally prevents cancer cells from spreading.
A University of East Anglia team found that blocking WWP2 raised levels of the natural inhibitor, which left the cancer cells dormant, the Daily Mail reports.
If a drug was developed that deactivated WWP2, existing therapies and surgery could be used on primary tumours, with no risk of the disease taking hold elsewhere.
Lead author Andrew Chantry said the discovery could lead to a new generation of drugs within the next decade that could stop the aggressive spread of most forms of the disease, including breast, brain, colon and skin cancer.
"The challenge now is to identify a potent drug that will get inside cancer cells and destroy the activity of the rogue gene.
"This is a difficult but not impossible task, made easier by the deeper understanding of the biological processes revealed in this study," he said.