Promising tool to combat cachexia-induced muscle wasting discovered

June 13, 2012
Researchers from McGill block onset of cachexia in animal models

(Medical Xpress) -- Cachexia, a syndrome characterized by rapid weight loss and muscle deterioration, is a major cause of death among patients suffering from diseases like cancer, AIDS and chronic infection. In fact, 30 per cent of cancer-related deaths are the result of cachexia-induced muscle loss rather than the primary malignancy. And while scientists are making strides in gaining a better understanding of this deadly condition, no effective anti-cachectic therapies exist to date. However, a newly published study by McGill University researchers shows that a low dose of Pateamine A (PatA) is effective at preventing cancer-induced muscle wasting – findings that could someday point to the development of cachexia-fighting drugs.

“To this day, when patients are diagnosed with cachexia, they’re sent to palliative care. Their illness is no longer treatable. They start losing muscle, including that which is in the lungs and they eventually die by asphyxia,” explained Dr. Imed Gallouzi, the paper’s senior author and Associate Professor in McGill’s Dept. of Biochemistry and researcher at the Goodman Research Centre. “It’s not that there are ineffective drugs out there, it’s that there are no approved drugs to treat this condition right now.”

Recently, compounds like PatA, a natural derivative of marine sponge known to interfere with protein production inside the cell and Episilvestrol (Epi), a plant compound, have been found to block tumor growth. Since tumors and inflammation are conditions that lead to muscle wasting, Gallouzi and his team tested the effect of different doses of PatA and Epi as potential anti-cachetic agents.

“We observed that a low dose of PatA blocks the onset of muscle wasting in two animal models by blocking the expression of factors that promote cachexia,” said Gallouzi. “PatA was originally identified as an inhibitor of the early steps that lead to protein synthesis inside the cell. As such, however, PatA can be toxic. Surprisingly, when we used this compound at a lower dose, we observed that it prevents cachexia-induced , by specifically interfering with the expression of promoters of muscle loss. Now we need to confirm that PatA, and its family of compounds, is effective in blocking muscle wasting in other animal models.”

The findings were published this week in the journal Nature Communications.

Explore further: Heavy lifting for cancer research

Related Stories

Heavy lifting for cancer research

February 9, 2012
Many patients with advanced cancer suffer from cachexia, a condition also called body-wasting or wasting syndrome, which causes significant weight loss, extreme fatigue and reduces quality of life.

No workout? No worries: Scientists prevent muscle loss in mice, despite disease and inactivity

February 29, 2012
If you want big muscles without working out, there's hope. In the March 2012 print issue of the FASEB Journal, scientists from the University of Florida report that a family of protein transcription factors, called "Forkhead ...

Recommended for you

Scientists find RNA with special role in nerve healing process

August 22, 2017
Scientists may have identified a new opening to intervene in the process of healing peripheral nerve damage with the discovery that an "anti-sense" RNA (AS-RNA) is expressed when nerves are injured. Their experiments in mice ...

Mouse model of human immune system inadequate for stem cell studies

August 22, 2017
A type of mouse widely used to assess how the human immune system responds to transplanted stem cells does not reflect what is likely to occur in patients, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School ...

Researchers offer new targets for drugs against fatty liver disease and liver cancer

August 22, 2017
There may no silver bullet for treating liver cancer or fatty liver disease, but knowing the right targets will help scientists develop the most effective treatments. Researchers in Sweden have just identified a number of ...

Make way for hemoglobin

August 18, 2017
Every cell in the body, whether skin or muscle or brain, starts out as a generic cell that acquires its unique characteristics after undergoing a process of specialization. Nowhere is this process more dramatic than it is ...

Bio-inspired materials give boost to regenerative medicine

August 18, 2017
What if one day, we could teach our bodies to self-heal like a lizard's tail, and make severe injury or disease no more threatening than a paper cut?

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.