New research has paved the way to unlocking the secrets behind the mechanism which leads to cancer cell multiplication.
Scientists from McGill University in Canada have determined the structure of the proteins involved in the process and their connections, which they hope will enable them to understand the consequences of the interactions.
The findings centre on the ubiquitin molecule, which attaches itself to proteins and degrades them.
This function was already known, but the new study suggests that ubiquitin also helps to mitigate cell proliferation.
Dr Kalle Gehring, one of the paper's co-authors, said: "In the long term, this may serve as a basis for us to find ways to intervene in this chain reaction and discover a treatment."
He continued: "This new information about ubiquitin marks an important advance in our understanding of the mechanisms associated with cancer and contributes to the fight against the disease by directing us towards research avenues for new medications."
The article is published in the August 3rd issue of Molecular Cell.