Grant R13CA250331

5th Cancer Cachexia Conference: Bridging Molecular Advances to Clinical Care

Cachexia is a debilitating syndrome of cancer, characterized by severe weight loss resulting from the depletion of mainly skeletal muscle and adipose. Muscle atrophy in particular is associated with weakness and fatigue, a lower tolerance to chemotherapy, and increased risk for adverse outcomes following surgery. Estimates indicate that the prevalence of cachexia in cancer is 50-80%, and 20% of all cancer deaths are linked to cachexia rather than directly to the tumor burden. Although Phase III clinical studies have been performed in cancer cachexia, they have failed to reach their primary endpoint. Thus, there remains an urgent need to better understand the underlying mechanisms by which tumor factors drive muscle and fat loss, so as to identify viable therapeutic targets that can be translated to an effective treatment. Although NIH has been a strong supporter of cachexia research, and interest has grown in the pharmaceutical industry, no standalone cancer cachexia conferences had been organized to bring scientists and clinicians together to interact and freely exchange knowledge of unpublished data. In 2012, a committee was formed to organize the first, cancer cachexia focused international conference, which was held in Boston. Based on the success of that first meeting, subsequent biennial conferences took place in Montreal (2014), Washington DC (2016), and Philadelphia (2018). The results from those meetings contributed a growing number of new laboratories entering the field and provided new knowledge. Still, much remains to be answered in the areas of clinical trial design, prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers, and choice of animal models. We propose to tackle these gaps through the organization of our 5th cancer cachexia conference entitled, “Bridging molecular advances to clinical care”. The aims for this conference will be to 1) better identify meaningful outcome measures for cancer cachexia clinical trials; and 2) to better translate findings from animal models to human studies in cancer cachexia. Achieving these goals should stimulate new ideas and accelerate the development of anti-cachexia therapies.