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Research Cooperation between Helmholtz Zentrum München and Boehringer Ingelheim


The Helmholtz Zentrum München teams up with Boehringer Ingelheim in an endeavor to identify novel candidates for anti-obesity treatment.

Cancer cachexia is a tumor-associated wasting syndrome characterized by severe muscle atrophy, cardiac dysfunction and notably adipose tissue loss. The fact that weight loss in cachexia cannot be (fully) reversed by nutritional interventions indicates that involved tissue-specific energy-wasting pathways could represent potential targets for pharmacological weight reduction in obesity.

Researchers at the Institute for Diabetes and Cancer at Helmholtz Zentrum München have recently identified tumor-derived factors that contribute to the cachectic phenotype by affecting remote tissues. These factors are potential candidates for a new generation of anti-obesity drugs. Nonetheless, effective pharmacological approaches to treat obesity are still not available.

In order to test the potential of cachexia mediators for anti-obesity therapies, Helmholtz Zentrum München and Boehringer Ingelheim have entered into a multi-year collaboration agreement. The research cooperation will focus on large-scale identification and characterization of tumor-derived factors that induce adipose tissue loss while leaving other tissues unaffected. The long-term goal of the study is to nominate novel candidates for pre-clinical validation.

The obesity pandemic

Overweight and obesity affect more than 1.5 billion individuals worldwide. While suffering from a substantial impact on quality of life, obese individuals are at elevated risk for developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Lifestyle changes including increased physical activity and/or caloric restriction are mostly ineffective with regard to sustained weight loss due to insufficient compliance and counter-regulatory metabolic responses. Safe and effective pharmacological measures which not only lower body weight efficiently, but also attain sustained body weight reduction and metabolic control are therefore urgently needed.