Researchers say they've identified a super breast cancer gene responsible for the deadly process that causes the cancer to spread into other parts of the body, French news agency AFP reports.

A study published this week in the journal Nature finds the SATB1 gene is a "master regulator" that alters the behavior of at least 1,000 other genes within breast tumor cells. The alteration causes the cancer to metastasize, spreading into other organs and tissues.

Prior to this discovery, doctors were at a loss to predict whether breast cancer would spread on a case-by-case basis. The new gene can be used as a marker to determine metastasis, the study's researchers said.

"SATB1 will be a remarkable target for cancer therapy," lead scientist Termumi Kohwi-Shigematsu of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., told AFP.

Researchers said the discovery may lead to the development of drugs to treat metastasis.

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