Tumour spread protein discovered

In collaboration with the Press Association

Scientists have pinpointed a key factor involved in the spread of cancer around the body, a process called "metastasis".

The research was conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine and is published in the journal Nature.

The study revealed that tumours which are hypoxic - low in oxygen - produce a protein called lysyl oxidase (LOX) which helped them to spread throughout the body.

"All tumours have the potential to spread," said lead author Dr Amato Giaccia, professor of radiation oncology.

"A low-oxygen environment dials up that potential, and now we know why."

During their work, the researchers found that by shutting down the production of LOX they were able to significantly reduce the tumours ability to spread.

The initial research was conducted on breast & head and neck tumours and scientists are now widening their study to examine the role of LOX in metastasis in other cancer types

Dr Giaccia said that the method could one day yield new therapies.

Find out more about cancer spread