OECs are a type of cell found in both the peripheral and central nervous system.

London - Scientists have found a new way to stop cancer from spreading through the body – by targeting healthy tissue around the tumour.

Traditional cancer treatments have focused on killing cancerous cells in a tumour.

But researchers believe their breakthrough could lead to a more effective treatment that builds a “wall” around cancer tumours to contain them.

The scientists at Queen’s University Belfast found that non-cancerous tissue next to tumours of the throat and cervix contains a protein called Retinoblastoma, which allows cancer to invade and spread.

Professor Dennis McCance, who led the research, said cancer spreads as a result of communications between cancer cells in a tumour and the healthy cells which surround it.

He said: “What we have discovered is that a particular protein in non-cancerous tissue has the ability to either open or close the communication pathway between the healthy tissue and the tumour.”

He said that when the protein in non-cancerous tissue is treated, the cancer cells are less likely to invade, so the spread of cancer is halted.

It is the first time scientists have identified the protein’s role in healthy tissue.

Professor McCance, whose work is published in the latest European Molecular Biology Organisation Journal, added: “The implications of this could go far beyond throat and cervical cancer, and that is something we plan to investigate further.” - Daily Mail