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Two Pennington Biomedical researchers are finalists for millions in cancer research funding

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 11:56 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Two Pennington Biomedical researchers and others have the chance to win $25 million coming from the global funding initiative called Cancer Grand Challenges.

They were founded by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

“We’re not talking about a small amount of money; this is $25 million and it could go towards really solving a lot of mysteries about why people lose weight when they develop cancer,” said Dr. Steven Heymsfield, professor and director of Metabolism and Body Composition Laboratory.

Heymsfield and the team are trying to figure out how to solve the mystery behind what causes and how to treat cachexia when someone has cancer.

It’s a “wasting” disorder that causes extreme weight loss and muscle wasting and can include loss of body fat. It also accounts for one-third of cancer deaths.

“The team that’s put together for this is divided into four parts. One part’s going to take the mouse and figure out why a mouse loses weight and another part’s taking people and doing that,” explained Heymsfield.

He said that getting to the bottom of cachexia could provide a benchmark for care in Baton Rouge and around the world.

“It would be a huge bonus for us, obviously. It’s $25 million, so probably several of those million dollars would come to Pennington and our collaborators here and hospitals in Louisiana and what would generate a lot of interesting research,” added Heymsfield.

For now, he said to keep your eyes and ears open because if the team receives the money, they’ll be looking for participants with cancer to be involved in future studies.

In early 2022, four of the teams will be picked to get up to $25 million each in funding to pursue their cancer solutions.

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