New drugs for treating bowel cancer may result from research at the Cardiff School of Biosciences showing how a particular protein stimulates tumours, making them more likely to spread.
It show how tumours actually grow, and provides scientists with crucial information for drug design to slow down or stop the spread of the disease.
Cancer Research UK scientist, Professor Alan Clarke, said: "We now know that the protein kinase Akt is a real lead for drug development, which we didn't properly appreciate before."
Akt is triggered when another protein, PTEN, is faulty and coincides with a third, APC. The research has now identified Akt as a strong lead for drug development to treat the cancer.
Cancer Research UK, whose team at the institute also worked on the study, said that identifying key proteins which control molecular networks inside cells, and establishing what happens when these proteins become faulty, is "fundamental" to understanding how the disease develops.
Dr Lesley Walker, the charity's Director of cancer information, said: "Bowel cancer is one of the most common diseases in the UK, and it is much more difficult to treat when it is advanced, so we welcome any research that gives us opportunities for better treatment."