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New insights into the cause of cancer cachexia

A team of researchers from Anatomy@Edinburgh and Clinical Surgery at the University of Edinburgh, led by Tom Gillingwater, Ross Jones and Richard Skipworth, has published new research into the underlying biology of cancer cachexia.

A confocal micrograph of a human neuromuscular junction. ​ ​
A confocal micrograph of a human neuromuscular junction.

Cachexia is a condition that occurs in some cancer patients, resulting in weakness and wasting of muscles, as well as weight loss. It was previously thought that muscle pathology in cachexia occurs due to defects in the nerve supply, as this is what happens in related conditions, such as age-related sarcopenia.

The new findings show that the nerve supply to muscle in patients with cancer cachexia remains intact. As a result, intrinsic changes within muscle are the most likely cause of this condition. These insights will play an important role in focussing future research aimed at identifying new treatments for patients with cachexia.

 

Further information:

View the 'In Press Review' paper in the Journal of Clinical Investigation

Prof Tom Gillingwaters lab profile