Muscular Dystrophy Gives Clue to Cancer Wasting

A cellular protein connects the two, researchers say

MONDAY, Nov. 21, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've spotted a link between muscular dystrophy and cancer-associated muscle-wasting disease.

The finding may help in the development of new ways to treat cancer-associated muscle wasting, which occurs in most cancer patients and is believed to contribute to up to a third of all cancer deaths. An effective therapy for muscle wasting could help improve cancer patients' survival, quality of life and ability to receive cancer treatment.

This Ohio State University study in mice found that cancer-associated muscle wasting is linked to a dysfunctional dystrophin glycoprotein complex (DGC), a structure in the muscle cell membrane that is mutated in muscular dystrophy.

Cancer progression is associated with reduction of dystrophin and abnormal regulation of DGC proteins, the researchers report in the November issue of Cancer Cell.

"Collectively, evidence in this study suggests that DGC dysfunction may be an early event in some cancers contributing to [muscle wasting]," the study authors wrote. "Since effective therapies are currently lacking, results imply that approaches targeted to restoring DGC function could also be considered as an option in designing anti-cancer [muscle wasting] therapies."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has information about nutrition in cancer care.

SOURCE: Cell Press, news release, Nov. 14, 2005
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