In Melbourne, researchers have revealed the critical importance of highly specialised immune cells, called natural killer cells, in killing melanoma cells that have spread to the lungs.
These natural killer cells could be harnessed to hunt down and kill cancers that have spread in the body.
The team, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, also found natural killer cells were critical to the body's rejection of donor bone marrow transplants and in the runaway immune response during toxic shock syndrome.
Dr Nick Huntington, Dr Priyanka Sathe and Ms Rebecca Delconte from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said MCL-1 could be a target for boosting or depleting natural killer cell populations to treat disease. Natural killer cells are immune predators, scouring the body in search of foreign invaders such as viruses, and sensing changes in our own cells that are associated with cancer.