Glioblastoma, which is one of the most common types of malignant brain tumours in adults, grow fast as well as spread easily.
The tumour has threadlike tendrils that extend into other parts of the brain making it difficult to remove it all, the study from the University of Southampton in Britain said.
The findings suggest that by blocking specific enzymes called ADAM10 and ADAM17, the tumour can be stopped from growing and spreading.
It also moves the cancer cells away from the place where they were growing which could allow them to be removed through traditional cancer treatments such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgery, the researchers noted in the paper published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology.
"Glioblastoma is a devastating disease which is often untreatable. We have found that blocking ADAMs may lead to reduced tumour growth and less recurrence following conventional treatments, improving the chance of complete surgical removal and improving survival rates," said Sandrine Willaime-Morawek, Lecturer at the University of Southampton in Britain.
The current treatment regimens are ineffective against the small population of cancer stem cells residing in the tumourigenic niche.
These tumours are highly proliferative and infiltrative resulting in a median patient survival of only 14 months from diagnosis.
However, the new therapeutic approach could involve the removal of these cells from the microenvironment that maintains the cancer stem cell phenotype, the researchers concluded.