Antibody Halts Cancer-Related Wasting Condition: Study Pinpoints a Molecular Cause of Cachexia

“New research raises the prospect of more effective treatments for cachexia, a profound wasting of fat and muscle occurring in about half of all cancer patients, raising their risk of death, according to scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“Many strategies have been tried to reverse the condition, which may cause such frailty that patients can’t endure potentially life-saving treatments, but none have had great success.

“Scientists reporting in the July 13 advanced online edition of Nature, led by Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, demonstrated that in mice bearing lung tumors, their symptoms of cachexia improved or were prevented when given an antibody that blocked the effects of a protein, PTHrP, secreted by the tumor cells. PTHrP stands for parathyroid hormone-related protein, and is known to be released from many types of cancer cells.

“The scientists said their findings are the first to explain in detail how PTHrP from tumors switches on a thermogenic (heat-producing) process in fatty tissues, resulting in unhealthy weight loss.”

Editor’s note: This research was performed in the lab and in mice. It may be some time before an antibody-based treatment for cachexia reaches humans in clinical trials. In the meantime, you can learn more about cachexia and how it is treated from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.


New Transdermal SARM Drug for Muscle-Wasting Offers Hope for Older Cancer Patients

Muscle wasting that occurs as a result of cancer negatively impacts the well-being and recovery prospects of millions of patients, particularly the rapidly-growing elderly populations in Western societies. Drugs called selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) offer hope for these patients, and a new SARM for transdermal administration is promising excellent efficacy without harming liver function and HDL levels. Results and conclusions were presented Tuesday at the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society: ICE/ENDO 2014 in Chicago.

SARMs are able to stimulate the growth of muscle with effects similar to those seen by use of traditional anabolic steroids but without the undesirable side effects of those established muscle-building drugs, in particular, the adverse effects on prostate health that can occur from their use.

Editor’s note: As stated above, drugs called SARMs may help counteract harmful muscle loss that occurs as a result of cancer in elderly patients. A new SARM was recently studied in the lab and in mice. Scientists say that it shows promising ability to stimulate growth of muscle, without harming liver function and without lowering blood levels of a molecule called HDL. Clinical trials to test the drug in volunteer patients will be needed to determine if the drug will help people with cancer.


Multimodal Approach Appears Promising for Treatment of Cancer Cachexia

“Cancer cachexia is a complex, multifactorial metabolic syndrome characterized by weight and muscle loss with or without loss of fat mass.

“It occurs in 30% to 80% of patients with cancer, and it is identified as an independent predictor of shorter survival and increased risk for treatment failure and toxicity…

“Due to the lack of selectivity of anabolic androgens, a need for more selective anabolic agents has emerged, resulting in the development of nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). These agents have the potential to elicit beneficial anabolic effects while avoiding many of the side effects observed with steroidal agents.”


Multimodal Approach Appears Promising for Treatment of Cancer Cachexia

“Cancer cachexia is a complex, multifactorial metabolic syndrome characterized by weight and muscle loss with or without loss of fat mass.

“It occurs in 30% to 80% of patients with cancer, and it is identified as an independent predictor of shorter survival and increased risk for treatment failure and toxicity…

“Due to the lack of selectivity of anabolic androgens, a need for more selective anabolic agents has emerged, resulting in the development of nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). These agents have the potential to elicit beneficial anabolic effects while avoiding many of the side effects observed with steroidal agents.”


Multimodal Approach Appears Promising for Treatment of Cancer Cachexia

“Cancer cachexia is a complex, multifactorial metabolic syndrome characterized by weight and muscle loss with or without loss of fat mass.

“It occurs in 30% to 80% of patients with cancer, and it is identified as an independent predictor of shorter survival and increased risk for treatment failure and toxicity…

“Due to the lack of selectivity of anabolic androgens, a need for more selective anabolic agents has emerged, resulting in the development of nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). These agents have the potential to elicit beneficial anabolic effects while avoiding many of the side effects observed with steroidal agents.”