Pennington awarded $25 million to research cancer cachexia

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 12:18 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2022 at 12:20 PM CDT

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Scientists are eager to find ways to prevent a wasting condition responsible for up to 30% of cancer deaths.

A grant from the global funding platform “Cancer Grand Challenges” is going to try and understand the biology of cancer cachexia in the Capital City. Cachexia can be defined as the loss of muscle mass that happens at the end of a person’s life.

“It’s very debilitating for patients, very challenging for physicians,” said Dr. Justin Brown, Director of the Cancer Metabolism Program at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Brown said there’s no treatment for cachexia the condition.

“Cachexia occurs in about 80% of patients with advanced cancer,” said Brown. “There are patients with advanced cancer in Baton Rouge, so it is very common.”

People with heart failure or advanced liver or kidney disease can also develop cachexia.

Pennington faculty members were awarded $25 million from Cancer Grand Challenges, another group looking to find what’s causing it.

“The goal is to be able to try to understand the biology of cancer cachexia, to understand what’s happening in the body that is leading to this weight loss, leading to this muscle wasting,” said Brown. “And then to be able to develop therapeutic targets and strategies so that we can help patients.”

This grant will allow people in Baton Rouge to enroll this coming fall and are hoping to find treatments to transform someone’s quality of life.

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