Cachexia is a debilitating syndrome of cancer, characterized by involuntary weight loss resulting from the depletion of peripheral tissues, mainly skeletal muscle and adipose. Of all cancer patients, 20% are thought to succumb to the disease because of cachexia rather than directly from the tumor burden. Continual weight loss in these patients associates with a poor prognosis and lower quality of life and treatment options have been limited. Nutritional interventions are ineffective and two recent Phase III clinical trials failed to reach their primary endpoint. Therefore, there remains an urgent need to develop cachexia therapies to improve outcome and survival. These new therapies will likely come from the identifications of new mechanisms that drive skeletal muscle and fat loss. Although NIH has become a strong supporter of cancer cachexia research and interest from the pharmaceutical industry continues to grow, the field itself has lacked a forum where scientist can come together to exchange ideas and discuss their latest unpublished findings. We created such a forum in 2012 with the organization of the 1st International Cancer Cachexia conference held in Boston, Massachusetts. Based on the success of that first meeting, we decided to hold subsequent bi-annual meetings that took place in Montreal (2014) and Washington DC (2016) respectively. With continued success, the goals of our 4th conference will be to 1) educate on the latest innovative scientific topics related to biomarker discovery and analysis of large data sets; and 2) expand the field by highlighting the work of basic and clinical scientists beginning to publish in the cancer cachexia space, as well as identifying the next generation of cancer cachexia researchers. Achieving these goals should stimulate new ideas and accelerate the development of anti-cachexia therapies.
HEALTH RELEVANCE The health relatedness of our meeting is what can be gained from understanding the newest advancements in how cancer promotes extreme weight loss in a condition called cachexia that decreases the quality of life and survival of the patient. The primary goal will be to discuss new mechanisms that lead to weight loss with the potential to target these mechanisms for potential anti-cachexia therapy. The second goal is to improve current clinical trial design so as to translate more effective care to cancer patients suffering from cachexia.