Researchers at England's University of East Anglia have discovered a so-called rogue gene that helps cancerous tumors spread through a victim's body, according to a study published in the journal Oncogene.
A substance in the body that attempts to stop cancer cells from spreading is strongly suppressed by the rogue gene, known as WWP2. The researchers noted, however, that the use of specialized medicines could instead suppress WWP2, allowing the body's natural defenses to block tumors by themselves.
The lead scientist on the study, Andrew Chantry, said in a statement that the discovery could unlock an advanced new generation of cancer treatments for some of the most lethal strains of the disease.
"The challenge now is to identify a potent drug that will get inside cancer cells and destroy the activity of the rogue gene," he said, characterizing the task as "difficult but not impossible."
The development of such a drug, experts say, could be a boon to life insurance companies as well as to the world at large, since the chances of death from cancer would surely decline with its introduction.