By Ben Hill For Daily Mail Australia
Published: 04:46 GMT, 1 January 2019 | Updated: 14:01 GMT, 2 January 2019
Scientists have made a breakthrough discovery that could open up revolutionary treatments for skin cancer.
Research has uncovered that special immune cells have the power to put melanoma tumours 'to sleep', stopping them from spreading.
The tissue-resident memory T-cells have been used to fight cancer in the past but researchers did not know how they worked - until now.
Scientists have made a breakthrough discovery that could open up revolutionary treatments for skin cancer (special T cells pictured in green, melanoma cells in red and skin in blue)
Research carried out by scientists at Melbourne's Peter Dohety Institute and Telethon Kids Institute was published in Nature journal on Tuesday.
They discovered that the T-cells could be used to stop the growth of skin cancers.
Paper lead author Simone Park said the T-cells 'hold the cancer in check'.
'What we found was that the cells are capable of inducing a state of dormancy of the tumour, stopping the cancer cells without killing them,' Ms Park told Daily Mail Australia.
'These particular cells are very good at controlling melanoma long term.'
She said scientists monitored both melanoma and T-cells using fluorescent markers.
Researchers discovered that the T-cells could be used to stop the growth of skin cancers (special T cells pictured in green, melanoma cells in red and skin in blue)
- There are 14,000 new diagnoses of melanoma in Australia annually
- Almost 2000 individuals die from the skin cancer nationally each year
- The five-year survival rate is between 90 to 99 per cent if melanoma is detected early
- The rate drops to less than 50 per cent if not detected early
'We could watch in real time the T cells interacting with melanoma cells,' she said.
T-cells were removed from mice which had dormant melanomas, and once the cells were