Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) are part of a team which has developed a novel way to control the extreme weight loss that commonly accompanies and hastens death in late stage cancer patients. The findings published in Nature Medicine suggest it may soon be possible to prevent this condition, giving people the strength to survive treatment and improve their chances of recovery.
The team of researchers from the Centre for Immunology at St Vincent’s Hospital and UNSW, and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have shown that most common cancers produce large amounts of a molecule known as MIC-1, which targets brain receptors that switch off appetite.
Antibodies against MIC-1, already developed by St Vincent’s, make it possible to switch appetite back on. Conversely, when normal and obese mice are treated with MIC-1, they eat less and lose a lot of weight, suggesting that MIC-1 may also form the basis of a treatment for severe obesity.
The study showed that if a human cancer making a lot of MIC-1 is grafted onto a mouse, that mouse lost weight dramatically. When the researchers injected that mouse with an antibody that ‘mopped up’ MIC-1, the weight loss was reversed. In effect, they rescued the mouse from the excessive influence of MIC-1.
Release date: November 6, 2007
Source: University of New South Wales
Filed Under: Drug Discovery