Silencing communication pathways between cancer cells could help prevent tumour growth, according to new findings.

The study, carried out by researchers at the Barts Cancer Institute, found that by blocking a molecule called CCR4 – a protein known to be over-expressed in several types of cancer – led to a reduction in tumour growth.

In humans, CCR4 is involved in the development and regulation of the immune system as well as playing roles in the prevention and formation of new blood vessels.

The team used mouse models of renal cell carcinoma (the most common form of kidney cancer in adults) and introduced an antibody to block CCR4 signalling.

Inhibition of CCR4 was associated with a changing of immune cell populations surrounding the tumours and a reduction in tumour cell proliferation.

The results suggest that a therapy targeting CCR4 could have anti-cancer effects in solid tumours known to over-express the molecule, including ovarian cancer, breast cancer and glioblastoma.

Anti-CCR4 therapies targeting are already being tested in various haematological and lymphatic cancers.