This is the main conclusion of a paper published on the latest edition of the journal Nature Reviews in Cancer, signed by experts Josep M. Argilés, Sílvia Busquets and Francisco J. López-Soriano, from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Institute of Biomedicine of the UB (IBUB), and Britta Stemmler (BS Nutrition Centre).
Cachexia is also linked with the activation of the inflammatory response and energetic inefficiency involving the mitochondria. It leads to progressive weight loss due to a reduction of muscle (skeletal and cardiac muscle) and adipose tissue mass. Also associated with anorexia, asthenia and anaemia, the disease produces severe metabolic changes (glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, lipid deposition decrease, etc.). Tumour’s increased energy demand —it competes for nutrients against the rest of cells— and patient’s decreased intake are the factors that determine the evolution of cachexia in cancer patients.
The article emphasizes the importance of studying the basis of the mechanisms that produce cancer cachexia, and the role that different cell types play to turn the disease into a multi-organ syndrome. According to UB researchers, who are also members of the Research Group on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Cancer, it is necessary to analyse the disease from a wide and multi-factorial therapeutic perspective that considers more agents involved in patients’ catabolic and anabolic mechanisms.
It is important to remember that the American company Expertscape, which publishes data about scientists’ productivity in different areas related to Medicine, has highlighted the leadership of the University of Barcelona and the experts of the Research Group on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Cancer of UB within the international study of cachexia.