Scientists at the British Wellcome Sanger Institute conducted a one-of-a-kind study in which they dismantled the genetic structure inside 30 types of cancer to reveal the disease's weaknesses, and, therefore, help treat it.
The team was able to detect 600 vulnerabilities that can be used to devise new cancer drugs that would directly target the cancer cells without affecting the healthy ones.
The identified weaknesses consist of crucial genes which at least one type of cancer needs to survive.
"This is so important because currently we treat cancer by treating the entire patient's body. We don't target the cancer cells specifically," Dr Fiona Behan, one of the researchers involved in the study, told BBC.
"The information we have uncovered in this study has identified key weak-spots of the cancer cells, and will allow us to develop drugs that target the cancer and leave the healthy tissue undamaged."
"We're understanding what's going on in the cancer cells so we can shoot our machine gun at the cancer cells, not at the whole body as chemotherapy does," Behan noted.
"This is the first step in putting a laser sight on our machine gun."