Experimental drug improves muscle strength among male cancer patients

June 24, 2012

An experimental medication safely increases muscle strength and physical functioning among cancer patients with low testosterone levels, a new drug study finds. The results will be presented Sunday at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

The medication, called enobosarm, is the first of a new class of drugs known as selective androgen receptor modulators, which are similar to steroids in their growth-enhancing effects but, potentially, have fewer side effects.

Muscle wasting is a significant problem for many cancer patients due to imbalances in body systems caused by the underlying cancer. In addition, this muscle wasting may be related to low testosterone levels, or hypogonadism, which affects approximately 50 percent of men undergoing treatment for late-stage cancer. Muscle wasting can seriously limit mobility, functioning, and quality of life for affected patients.

In this multi-center drug trial, enobosarm significantly improved physical function among patients with low testosterone, as well as normal hormone levels. Among the low testosterone group, physical function improved by 19 percent, while patients with normal hormone measurements increase their functional ability by 13 percent. At the study's start, 60 percent of patients had subnormal testosterone levels, lost more weight, and suffered greater declines in physical functioning than patients with normal hormone concentrations.

"These data provide evidence that enobosarm may play an important role in the management of cancer-related muscle-wasting even in the setting of low testosterone," said study lead author Adrian Dobs, M.D., M.H.S., professor of medicine and oncology, and vice-chair of the Department of Medicine, Faculty Development at Johns Hopkins University Medical School in Baltimore, MD.

The overall study included 159 cancer patients, of which 65 percent were men. Female participants were post-menopausal, and males were >45 years old. Participants had lost on average about 8 percent of their body weight in the six months preceding the study, and had a body mass index, which is a calculation of weight to height, of <35. Additionally, all patients had received a cancer diagnosis, which included one of the following: non-small-cell lung carcinoma, colorectal cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and breast cancer.

This particular study examined a subset of this population, which comprised 93 male patients. Sixty percent of these men had low testosterone levels at the beginning of the trial. Investigators randomly assigned these participants to receive either 1 or 3 milligrams of oral enobosarm or placebo daily for 16 weeks. Since the trial was double-blinded, neither patients nor researchers knew which group was receiving the study drug versus placebo. At the study's beginning and end, investigators assessed patients' physical functioning using a stair-climbing test.

According to Dobs, this study laid the groundwork for ongoing research examining enobosarm's effects on muscle-wasting specifically among lung-cancer patients.

"Enobosarm has the potential to improve physical performance and increase muscle mass, potentially providing lung-cancer patients with improved strength, or physical function, more independence, increased quality of life, better response to chemotherapy and hopefully longer survival," Dobs said.

Previous findings from the larger study comprising male and female patients have been reported, but these data on the subset of male patients with baseline low testosterone are being presented for the first time.
-end-
GTx, Inc. Memphis, TN, funded the study.

The Endocrine Society

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.