Funding for cancer weight loss research

A La Trobe University research team who discovered the cause of a muscle-wasting condition that affects the majority of cancer patients will receive funding from a new Victorian Government medical research fund.

The La Trobe School for Molecular Science researchers in conjunction with researchers from the School of Cancer Medicine at the Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute are among 13 groups to receive inaugural funding from the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund.

The La Trobe researchers, including Professor Nick Hoogenraad from La Trobe and Professor Andrew Scott from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, will use the $500,000 grant to fast track research on cachexia - a condition that results in significant weight loss in 80 per cent of cancer patients and accounts for 20 per cent of all cancer deaths.

The funding is the latest in a series of grants awarded to La Trobe since the discovery a decade ago of a receptor known as Fn14 causes cachexia.

Professor Hoogenraad said his team was progressing towards a cure for cancer-cachexia and hoping to start first ‘in human’ trials in 18 months.

“Since our initial research, we have done a great deal of work to better understand how Fn14 works at a molecular level,” Professor Hoogenraad said.

“We are also currently on a search for biomarkers for early diagnosis and we have developed humanised antibodies to fight cachexia. The next step is clinical trials.

“We can’t stop people from dying of cancer, but we can do something to alleviate their suffering.”

The project brings together scientists from La Trobe, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and Karolinska Institute.

Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund would fast-track breakthroughs in health and medical research into better care and treatments for patients.

“Victoria is proudly home to the best and brightest medical minds who are leading the way in revolutionary discoveries that will save lives.”

Media Contact Anastasia Salamastrakis 0428 195 464