Cancer research saw a couple of exciting stories this week, with German researchers taking a novel approach to tackling the chronic pain associated with many cancer cases while an Australian pharmaceutical company tries to beat the disease from the inside.

A team at Heidelberg University has found a molecule produced by tumors which enhances nerve ending growth in surrounding tissue. It’s thought that this new growth of nerve endings may be responsible for the unique type of pain suffered by cancer patients, which is not only intense  but often doesn’t respond to traditional treatments for pain. With a likely suspect for cancer pain in their sights, the next step for researchers is to find a way to block transmission of the molecule, ideally easing the pain at it’s source.

Meanwhile, Australian firm Bionomics released promising findings from the Phase I clinical trial of BNC105. The catchily named substance is among a  crop of drugs known as Vascular Targeting Agents (VDAs), which fight cancer by cutting off the blood flow to tumors, effectively starving them. Which is interesting enough, but BNC105 turns it’s nice jab into a strong 1-2 punch. In addition to cutting blood flow to tumors efficiently while avoiding ill effects to other organs, BNC105 has is also a cytotoxic agent, poisoning the tumor while also starving it. It also seems to be retained within tumors, meaning that it can keep doing it’s dirty work on the inside with minimal side effects. That’s because by the time blood flow is cut off, it’s too late for the tumor to expel the toxic agent. Or, in the parlance of horror films – THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!

Take a look at the drugs bio at Bionomics website, and take a look at the Phase I trial results here.