Promising tool to combat cachexia-induced muscle wasting discovered

June 13, 2012, McGill University
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

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

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.