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Muscling up in cancer cachexia

Researchers at Amgen Inc. and colleagues at Harvard Medical School have developed a soluble activin receptor type 2b (ACVR2B) decoy that reversed muscle wasting and increased survival in mice with cancer cachexia.1 But targeting muscle loss alone is likely to be insufficient to treat cachexia because the indication involves myriad other symptoms.

Muscle wasting in cachexia is the primary cause of death in more than 20% of cancer patients. Studies have implicated multiple hormones, chemokines, cytokines, transcription factors and tumor-secreted factors in the pathogenesis of the muscle loss, but there is no consensus about the dominant underlying mechanism.

As a result, companies are developing a broad range of therapies to combat cachexia-related muscle loss. Theseinclude appetite enhancers, nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) that mimic the anabolic effects of steroids, and inhibitors

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