Bimagrumab (BMY338) as a potential treatment for cancer-related cachexia


It is worthy of note that FDA has just granted “breakthrough therapy” to an investigational drug called bimagrumab for the treatment of a rare muscle-wasting disease known as sporadic inclusion body myositis  or sIBM, based on data from a Phase II proof-of-concept study that has shown a substantial benefit for patients treated with bimagrumab compared to placebo.

So why is this worthy of note for the prostate cancer community?

Because bimagrumab is also in clinical development for the treatment of cancer-related cachexia, a wasting syndrome that is associated with loss of weight, muscle atrophy, fatigue, weakness, and significant loss of appetite in people who is not actively trying to lose weight. Cachexia is commonly observed in patients with advanced forms of cancer who are undergoing or have undergone chemotherapy. As yet, however, there do not appear to be any clinical trials of BMY338 in the management of cachexia, so we will need to temper enthusiasm until the developer is able to demonstrate proof of concept in that condition too.

To see Novartis’s media release about the breakthrough designation, please click here. The results of this study showing the efficacy of bimagrumab in sIBM will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Neurological Association upcoming on October 14.

There are no really effective treatments available at this time for the treatment of either sIBM or cancer-related cachexia.

6 Responses

  1. I would be a skeptic about something that treats cachexia. That is usually an end-stage symptom complex in chronically ill patients. In prostate cancer it is probably a pre-death stage for people with advanced disease. If it works, one would need to prove that this is at a stage where prolonging life may not be in the best interest of the patient.

  2. Dear Bob:

    Rerspectfully, treating cachexia is as much or more about quality of life as about extent of it.

  3. Fortunately I have only an academic interest in this investigational drug and cachexia at this point. However, one of the drugs I have taken, thalidomide, has some anti-cachexia activity as well as anti-prostate cancer activity. There is some research indicating that fish oil also can help.

    Has there been any publicly available follow-up on this? I visited the ANA site but did not find useful information. I was hoping to have access to at least poster content about this drug as it is now past the conference date. There was nothing in PubMed, and GoogleScholar captured just two hits, neither with the information I hoped to see.

  4. Jim:

    I think it may be a while before we hear much more about BMY338. The companies like to be able to keep data “close to their chests” in situations like this in order to delay risk that someone else can rapidly develop a competitive product. The developer was probably required to issue the media release that did go out simply because the fact that the FDA gave the product a “breakthrough therapy” designation was “material” from the perspective of Wall Street.

  5. Jim:

    Here is one link that I was able to find

  6. Thanks. That was an interesting account.

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