Treating cancer cachexia to treat cancer
1 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, 725 N. Wolfe St., PCTB 803, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA
2 Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, 100 Technology Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
Skeletal Muscle 2011, 1:2 doi:10.1186/2044-5040-1-2Published: 24 January 2011
Skeletal muscle wasting is a major component of cachectic states found in a variety of disease settings, including cancer. As increasing caloric intake often provides little benefit in combating muscle loss in cachectic patients, a major research focus has been to develop strategies stimulating muscle anabolic pathways - in an attempt to fight the catabolic pathways induced during cachexia. Two recent papers have reported the beneficial effects of blocking the myostatin/activin signalling pathway in mouse models of cancer cachexia. We discuss the implications of their findings both with respect to the role that this signalling pathway may play in the aetiology of cachexia and with respect to the prospects for targeting this pathway as a therapeutic strategy in patients with cachexia.