The discovery, which was made last year, could perhaps within the next ten years be used in anti-cancer medications across the world.
"Our group is working with selenium - a unique element for human health. All the substances that are used as selenium supplements at the moment are very toxic," Pāvels Arsenjans, the head of the institute's Pharmacomodulation synthesis group, told Latvian Television.
The research has been ongoing for about ten years now. Experiments show that the potentially useful substances, in the case of breast cancer, both slow the growth of the cancer and reduce metastases.
"Doctors can fight primary cancers, but it's much more dire in the case of metastases. We have discovered selenium-containing substances that completely prevent breast cancer from metastatizing in animal models. The substances have no side effects," said Arsenjans.
"I hope that at least a single selenium-containing medicine will enter the market and help improve people's health," he said.
For the substance to become a marketable medicine about a billion euros are needed. Arsenjans revealed that a company interested in the drug had visited Rīga, and talks about a contract are underway.
If the contract will be concluded, work will begin on improving the drug and starting human trials. The new medicine could appear in pharmacies in about seven years.