Scientists have discovered how a key protein helps cancerous cells spread through the body in a finding that could pave the way for new drugs to slow down the progression of the disease.

The molecule, called Src, loosens the tissue around a tumor and allows cancerous cells to metastasize, or grow in other organs.

Scientists at Glasgow’s Beatson Institute, who figured out how it works, believe drugs designed to block the action of the molecule could prevent cancer from spreading.