The University of Newcastle, Australia

Cancer Neurobiology


Professor Hubert Hondermarck

Professor Hubert Hondermarck

RHD Students

Sam Faulkner, Nathan Griffin, Xiang Li, Alison Rutledge


The group works on the crosstalk between nerves and cancer cells, and the impact on tumour progression.

Until recently it was thought that neurons were not actively involved in cancer. However, recent evidence in prostate and breast cancers, including from our group, have shown that nerves promote tumour progression and that denervation can suppress both the development of the primary tumour and the outburst of metastases.

The objective of the group’s research is to identify the molecular mediators of the crosstalk between nerve and cancer cells, which constitute new and innovative biomarkers and therapeutic targets in oncology.

The methodologies used include analysis of human tumour samples, cell cultures, in vivo experiments and proteomic analysis.

The group work in collaboration with neurobiologists, pathologists, clinicians and private companies to translate the results of the research into practical outcomes in oncology.

Nerve-cancer cell crosstalk. Nerves infiltrate solid tumours and stimulate cancer growth and metastasis through the liberation of neurotransmitters.

Conversely, nerve infiltration in the tumour is mediated through the liberation of neurotrophic growth factors by cancer cells. Neurotransmitters and neurotrophic growth factors also impact angiogenesis and inflammation.

This reciprocal interaction fuels cancer development, and participates in cancer pain.