A trial looking at bimagrumab for weight and muscle loss in people with lung or pancreatic cancer

Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Non small cell lung cancer
Pancreatic cancer




Phase 2

This trial was done to see if bimagrumab (BYM338) could help stop extreme loss of weight and muscle mass (cachexia). It was for people with advanced non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or pancreatic cancer.

The trial was open for people to join between 2011 and 2014, and the team analysed the results in 2014.

More about this trial

People with advanced cancer can lose a lot of weight and muscle mass. This is called cachexia. People with cachexia often feel very weak and less able to do day-to-day things.

Researchers wanted to find out if a drug called bimagrumab (BYM338) could help build up muscle and to stop weight loss.

Bimagrumab blocks a protein called myostatin. Myostatin stops muscle growth. Researchers hoped that blocking myostatin would mean that muscle tissue could grow.

The main aims of this trial were to find out:

  • if bimagrumab can help increase muscle strength and slow weight loss
  • more about the side effects

Summary of results

The research team found that bimagrumab didn’t cause too many side effects. It was difficult to say for sure if it helped with weight loss.

Trial design
This trial was for people with lung cancer or pancreatic cancer that had spread. Everyone who took part had lost weight without trying to.

The people taking part had either had bimagrumab or a dummy drug (placebo). They had one dose of treatment, through a drip into a vein.

The research team looked at various measurements before treatment and about 2 months afterwards. This was to see if bimagrumab helped to build up muscle and stop weight loss. 

A total of 57 people joined this trial. They were put into a treatment group at random. There were:

  • 29 people in the bimagrumab group
  • 28 people in the placebo group

The researchers looked at a number of factors such as:

  • weight
  • muscle volume
  • lean tissue (everything that isn’t body fat)
  • bone density

They found that there wasn’t much difference in the two groups for most of these. There was a small difference in the amount of lean tissue. But this could be to do with the way fluid collects in the body and the way that muscle mass is measured.

The team looked at how many people’s cancer had continued to grow, and found it was about the same in each group.

They also looked at how many people had died. They found it was a few more people in the bimagrumab group. But this could be because there were more people with more advanced pancreatic cancer in that group. The doctors don’t think it was because of the treatment.

Side effects
The team found that bimagrumab didn’t cause too many side effects. Many of the problems people had were caused by the cancer, rather than by the treatment.

Two people who had bimagrumab had a stroke. But the doctors can’t say for sure whether the bimagrumab caused this.

The research team concluded that bimagrumab didn’t cause too many side effects. They suggest other trials are done to find out more about how well it works for people losing a lot of weight.

Where this information comes from    
We have based this summary on information from the research team. As far as we are aware, the information they sent us has not been reviewed independently (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) or published in a medical journal yet. The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Ken Fearon

Supported by


If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Last reviewed:

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