The University of Manchester team has discovered a protein potentially involved in the spread or "metastatic progression" of tumors.
The researchers believe their findings could lead to new approaches to treating breast cancer as blocking the protein's actions has the potential to stop cancerous cells migrating.
"What we have identified is a new role for a protein called LPP," explained Professor Andrew Sharrocks, who headed the research team.
"Until now, this protein was only thought to function at the cell periphery but we have shown that it works in conjunction with another protein PEA3 in the cell nucleus.
"PEA3 has already been implicated in the spread of breast cancer but we have found that the LPP molecule is essential for the correct function of PEA3."
"If we can target the LPP protein and stop it from working in cancerous cells, we have a possible new route to therapy."
The research, published in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biology, may have implications for other cancer systems.
"Benign tumours remain in one part of the body and are relatively easy to treat through surgery," said Professor Sharrocks, who is based in the University's Faculty of Life Sciences.
"But metastases malignant cancers that spread to other parts of the body can be much more problematic.
"Our research is potentially fundamental to all types of cancers and has the potential to offer alternative therapies to stop cancers spreading to other organs in the body."
News of the scientific breakthrough comes as the University announced Breast Cancer Campaign funding for two other research projects worth nearly 300,000.
Dr. Andrew Gilmore, also in the Faculty of Life Sciences, has been awarded a grant of 146,000 to examine in more det
Contact: Aeron Haworth
University of Manchester