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Striving for a cancer-free future

Towards precision medicine for cancer cachexia

Lead researcher

A/Prof Craig Harrison, Dr Paul Gregorevic, A/Prof Jose Garcia

Monash University

Tumour type:
All cancers

Years funded

What is the project?

Currently without an effective treatment, cachexia is a life-threatening wasting syndrome that occurs in many cancer patients. We hypothesise that the intractable nature of this condition arises because each cancer type, and potentially every cancer patient, has a characteristic signature of tumour induced factors (tumourkines) that contribute to the initiation and progression of cachexia.

Performing the most comprehensive screening to date, we will identify groups of tumourkines that are elevated in sub-sets of cancer patients and correlate these tumourkine signatures with aspects of cachectic wasting. We will then demonstrate that the most common tumourkine signatures in cancer patients can induce all, or many, aspects of this wasting syndrome.

What is the need?

Cachexia, sometimes referred to as “the last illness”, is a metabolic disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, including 80% of individuals with advanced cancer. Cachexia causes a devastating loss of muscle and fat mass, leading to significant reductions in mobility, physical activity and functional independence, together with reduced tolerance to radio- and chemotherapy. Due to a lack of therapeutic options, cachexia is responsible for 20-40% of all cancer-related deaths (1.6-3.2 million people globally in 2012).

What are you trying to achieve?

Positive outcomes from this study will include the identification of therapeutic targets to reverse wasting in cancer cachexia and development of the first diagnostic test for this devastating condition.

Funding Body

Cancer Council Victoria Research Grant