In this research, the scientists gave both normal mice and mice with a cachexia-like syndrome Neurocrine's orally-administered medication that blocks the MC4 receptor in the brain. In both cases, the animals' appetites increased and their metabolic rates decreased, ultimately resulting in the resumption of normal growth and accumulation of muscle mass. Researchers now hope to conduct clinical trials where both healthy human patients and those suffering from cachexia receive related oral medications to determine the drug's safety and effectiveness.
"We believe the results obtained in this collaborative study with OHSU will provide an important proof-of-principle for Neurocrine's small molecule MC4 receptor antagonist program in animal models relevant for cachexia," said Alan C Foster, Ph.D., Neurocrine Fellow and head of Neurocrine's neuroscience group. Neurocrine is a San Diego-based company that is developing medications related to weight regulation. "We hope to advance an optimized molecule into the first stages of human clinical testing later this year."
"While a lot of attention is paid to the country's obesity epidemic, researchers at OHSU also investigate the other side of weight regulation which is not as well-publicized -- extreme weight loss," said Roger Cone, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Study of Weight Regulation and Associated Disorders. "Cachexia and disorders like it can have extremely serious consequences on patients. This research not only provides hope for these patients, it is also provides another important piece of the puzzle in regards to the brain's control over weight regulation."
The Center for the Study of Weight Regulation and Associated Disorders is a new research institute at Oregon Health & Science
Contact: Jim Newman
Oregon Health & Science University