Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Cancer Research Group

Principal investigator: Josep Mª Argilés  Researchers: Francisco J. López Soriano · Sílvia Busquets

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Cachexia is defined as a state of malnutrition and physical exhaustion and includes weight loss (up to 80% of lean and fat mass) due to chronic disease. Cachexia occurs in many diseases such as cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, sepsis, diabetes, states immobilization, severe burns, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease or old age, among others. Several studies associate the presence of wasting in patients with a decreased ability to survive. This means that there is a growing interest in developing drugs capable of dealing with this syndrome, drugs that would allow patients to cope with this disease and possess a higher quality of life in the meantime.

Nowadays there is no effective pharmaceutical treatment on the market that can resolve cachexia. Today, patients suffering of cachexia receive treatments (that is, if they are treated; it is not a common hospital practice) based on different types of drugs, which are mainly derived from progesterone (in particular, megestrol acetate) and steroids such as testosterone, nandrolone or ostarine.

Our research aims are the following:

a) To develop a combined therapy to stop muscle wasting associated with cancer cachexia.
b) To share a score (CASCO) which allows for the evaluation of the degree of cachexia of the cancer patient taking into account: body weight and composition, metabolic and inflammatory parameters, food intake, muscle function and quality of life.



Argilés, J.M.; Stemmler ,B.; López-Soriano, F.J.; Busquets ,S. Inter-tissue communication in cancer cachexia. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 15(1):9-20, 2018. doi: 10.1038/s41574-018-0123-0.

Argilés, J.M.; López-Soriano, F.J.; Stemmler ,B.; Busquets ,S. Novel targeted therapies for cancer cachexia. Biochem J. 27;474(16):2663-2678, 2017. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20170032.

Argilés, J.M.; López-Soriano, F.J.; Toledo, M.; Betancourt, A.; Serpe, R.; Busquets, S. The cachexia score (CASCO): a new tool for staging cachectic cancer patients. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2(2):87-93, 2011.

Toledo, M.; Penna, F.; Oliva, F.; Luque, M.; Betancourt, A.; Marmonti, E.; López-Soriano, F.J.; Argilés, J.M.; Busquets, S. A multifactorial anti-cachectic approach for cancer cachexia in a rat model undergoing chemotherapy. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 7(1):48-59, 2016. doi: 10.1002/jcsm.12035.

Toledo, M.; Busquets, S.,;Penna, F.; Zhou, X.; Marmonti, E.; Betancourt, A.; Massa, D.; López-Soriano, F.J.; Han, H.Q.; Argilés JM. Complete reversal of muscle wasting in experimental cancer cachexia: Additive effects of activin type II receptor inhibition and β-2 agonist. Int J Cancer. 15;138(8):2021-9, 2016. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29930.