Scientists in Glasgow have devised a new method of attacking cancer cells.
The chemical can kill several cancer cells, including bowel cells
A team of experts from the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research gave mice a chemical which caused cancer cells to "commit suicide".
The chemical significantly slowed the growth of the tumours in the mice and could pave the way for a new agent to stop cancer developing.
The Cancer Research UK experts reported the findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
In further laboratory studies the research team found that the chemical could kill several types of cancer cells - including bowel, cervical and bone cells.
Lead researcher Dr Kevin Ryan said: "Our study has shown for the first time that the selective activation of a gene called p73 can cause cell death in tumours.
"We think this approach has the potential to be developed into an effective treatment for cancer."
Professor Jim Cassidy of Cancer Research UK said: "This fascinating piece of basic research has resulted in an experimental treatment that can cause malignant tumours to stop growing.
"In laboratory tests it killed a range of different cancer cells.
"We look forward to seeing if switching on p73 can translate into a treatment for patients."