Clue to Cancer Wasting (Cachexia) from Fruit Fly Studies; Results Could Lead to Targeted Treatments; Key Is Tumor-Secreted ImpL2 Protein in Fly, Analogous to Human IGFBPs

The progressive wasting of muscle and fat tissue throughout the body is one of the most visible and heart-breaking manifestations of cancer, yet little is known about how tumors cause distant tissues to degenerate. Two independent studies published in open-access articles in the April 6, 2015 issue of Developmental Cell reveal that a tumor-secreted molecule called ImpL2 drives the loss of fat and muscle tissue in fly cancer models that replicate key features of tumor-induced wasting in humans. The findings could lead to the development of much-needed targeted therapies for wasting syndrome in cancer patients. "Many cancer patients die, not because of the local effects of tumors, but rather from more broad, systemic changes to the entire body that are induced by these tumors. One of the worst of these long-range effects is wasting syndrome, also known as cachexia, which is a major obstacle to cancer treatment," says developmental biologist Dr. David Bilder of the University of California, Berkeley, one of the study authors. "The two new studies illustrate the power of using simple model organisms to provide new insights relevant to the most important questions of human cancer biology." About 20% of cancer deaths are due to cachexia, which mostly affects patients with advanced cancer, making them too weak for some types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy and more susceptible to the toxic effects of chemotherapy. An increase in food intake does not fully reverse tissue loss, and available therapies are so limited that the National Cancer Institute highlighted cachexia as a perplexing problem that has slowed progress against cancer. To tackle the complexities of cancer cachexia, two independent research teams. One consists of Dr. Bilder and Dr.
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