Researchers at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre have found people with lung cancer are loaded with high levels of a protein that is resistant to chemotherapy.
More than 9000 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and the disease's resistance makes it tricky to treat.
But researchers at the University of NSW centre have developed a gene silencing technique that can switch off the resilient protein cells, making the cancer more sensitive to chemotherapy.
The next step is finding a way to deliver this treatment to the tumour without the body rejecting it, said Professor Maria Kavallaris.
"If you just put it into an animal it would just get excreted straight away," Prof Kavallaris told AAP.