A team of researchers from the St Vincents Campus in Sydney have developed a novel way to control the extreme weight loss, common in late stage cancer, which often speeds death.
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 Vincents Hospital and the University of New South Wales and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have shown that most common cancers produce large amounts of a molecule known as MIC-1, which in turn targets receptors in the brain that switch off appetite. Antibodies against MIC-1, already developed by St Vincents, 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.
Professor Sam Breit at the Centre for Immunology originally cloned the MIC-1 gene. He discovered that blood levels of MIC-1 were high in many patients with advanced cancers, and correlated this with the extreme weight loss seen in these patients.
In a collaboration with Professor Herbert Herzog, Director of the Neuroscience Research Program at Garvan they then analysed the effect of this molecule on metabolism and the brain control of appetite.
This work has given us a better understanding of the part of the brain that regulates appetite. Our bodies send complex chemical signals to our brains, which interpret them and send back responses, in this case eat or dont eat. Our research indicated that MIC-1 is a previously unrecognised molecule sending a dont eat signal to the brain, said Professor Herzog.
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 researc
|Contact: Susi Hamilton|
University of New South Wales