Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at bimagrumab for weight and muscle loss in people with lung or pancreatic cancer
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.
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:
- 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.
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 (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Ken Fearon