The researchers have mapped the structure of telomerase, an enzyme which helps keep cancer cells in an immortal state. By blocking this enzyme the researchers say they can prevent the uninhibited growth in cancer cells.
"Telomerase is an ideal target for chemotherapy because it is active in almost all human tumors, but inactive in most normal cells," said Dr Emmanuel Skordalakes. "That means that a drug that deactivates telomerase would likely work against all cancers, with few side effects."
The details of the study appear in the journal Nature.