Using mice and human tissues, researchers have identified a possible way to stop, or slow down, a common wasting syndrome in cancer patients.
Cachexia, where people drastically lose weight, is experienced by nearly half of all cancer patients, can limit the effectiveness of treatments and increases the risk of death.
A study at Koç University, in Istanbul, Turkey, and UC Louvain, Belgium, studied tissue samples taken from patients, either with or without cachexia, and found that the protein EDA2R was present at increased levels in those who had the condition.
When the team increased EDA2R levels in mice with tumours, they saw that the animals experienced significant muscle degeneration.
The mouse experiments also allowed them to identify a signalling pathway for EDA2R (one involved in controlling the action of muscle wasting), which could then be targeted as a way to treat cachexia.