Scientists at the University of Salford said they have identified a cancer cell from which all cancer growth starts in the body.
The 'cell of origin' thought to trigger all types of cancer and allow the disease to spread has been found, scientists claim.
Salford University researchers have described their discovery as being like managing to find the proverbial 'needle in a haystack'. But the findings, hoped to rewrite medical textbooks on the growth of cancer, could be a blow to existing treatments, such as chemotherapy.
Professor Michael Lisanti, study author, said: 'We may have to press the reset button on how we treat cancer with drugs.'
He added: 'Scientists talk about cancer being caused by dying cells coming back to life, so-called 'zombie-cells'.
'In other words, this origin cell breaks out of line and runs amok, multiplying malignant cells and creating a tumour.'
He warned some chemotherapy can encourage stem cells to proliferate more, which may aid the growth of tumours.
Two samples of human breast tumours were examined for the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology.
The scientists used fluorescent markers to isolate the most energetic cells taken from the samples in the laboratory.
A tiny proportion of the cells - now branded energetic cancer stem cells (eCSC) - had much more energy than the others.
It is currently unclear how the rogue cells are able to break out of senescence - a process linked to ageing that causes cells near the end of their lives to 'freeze' and stop multiplying - and further tests are needed to prove any theory. (QNA)
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