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Cancer pain breakthrough

16th June 2009

A drug breakthrough may reduce the amount of pain suffered by cancer patients.

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Analgesic painkillers are not usually effective against cancer pain, for biological reasons.

A new finding by a German team shows that blocking a certain molecule produced by tumours might dull pain in sufferers.

According to the team's research, the hormone-like molecules emitted by tumours cause nerve endings to grow in the tissue that surrounds them.

Doctors usually have trouble helping patients to deal with cancer-related pain, which intensifies with the spread of the disease throughout the body.

At the beginning of their research, the German research team looked at molecules already known to play a role in the growth of bone marrow.

However, this is the first time that those molecules have been implicated in cancer-related pain.

The researchers identified drugs that can nullify the effect of those molecules, and thereby dull pain.

Mark Matfield, scientific adviser to the Association for International Cancer Research, said that identifying one of the ways in which cancer causes pain is a crucial step towards drugs that could bring relief to cancer sufferers across the world.
 
Joanna Owens, of Cancer Research UK, said that it is important that people continue to improve pain relief for cancer sufferers, and that the new study reveals an intriguing new avenue for further research.

She said that this research could one day lead to drugs that block pain locally at the tumour site.

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