Arizona Technology Council member, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), headquartered in Downtown Phoenix, has received a $175,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation to study how to prevent cancer patients from dying from cachexia, which causes the loss of weight and muscle mass, a symptom responsible for more than 30 percent of cancer deaths.
Also known as wasting syndrome, the condition is characterized by muscle atrophy, fatigue, weakness and significant loss of appetite in addition to weight loss. More than 80 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer develop cachexia.
Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen distinguished professor and physician-in-chief, proposes that cachexia is associated with a cancer-caused conversion of white fat (stored fat) into brown fat (energy-burning fat). “If we can stop the conversion of the white fat into brown fat,” he said, “we should be able to reverse cachexia and stop the weight loss, muscle weakness, anemia and loss of appetite, and, hopefully, help people feel more like living.”