A University of Saskatchewan neuroscience researcher, Francisco Cayabyab, and his team have discovered a way to “halt” cancer cells from growing.

The research team found that when two proteins, a potassium channel from HERG and a molecular switch called STAT1, connect they form a complex and increase cancer cell activity.

Breast cancer cells develop when molecular switches in breast tissue become hyperactive, resulting in uncontrolled cell reproduction, he said.

Cayabyab and his team have found a way to prevent HERG and STAT1 from connecting.

“What we find is that if we are able to disrupt this communication between these two proteins, we can actually slow down the growth of breast cancers,” Cayabyab told CTV News.

“What we have discovered may lead to a novel way of targeting cancer cells.”

They started the research for breast cancer and are now working on targeting prostate and glioblastoma cancer cells.

“We’re not saying it’s a cure for cancer, it’s in the very early stages and so far the results are very promising,” he said.

The team received $50,000 from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation for the research, but Cayabyab said more funding is needed to hopefully, one day, develop drugs that will target the proteins.

“It may turn out that this discovery is a magic bullet.”