European regulators are to review a novel drug designed to treat anorexia, cachexia, or unintended weight loss in non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Helsinn’s anamorelin is a novel, orally active ghrelin receptor agonist that stimulates multiple pathways in the positive regulation of body weight, lean body mass, appetite and metabolism.

The firm is hoping that the drug will become the first novel treatment for cancer-induced anorexia-cachexia - a multifactorial problem typified by the loss of lean body mass - in more than a decade. 

A pooled analysis from two Phase III trials involving NSCLC patients showed that anamorelin significantly improved lean body mass and increased body weight compared to placebo and was well tolerated, raising hopes that it “might influence cancer therapy across the oncology spectrum”, study investigator David Currow at Flinders University in Adelaide told the media last year.

“With this EMA submission, we are one step closer to bringing this new and potentially effective treatment to market, meaning that the quality of life for patients with non-small cell lung cancer who suffer from anorexia, cachexia, could soon improve,” noted Riccardo Braglia, Helsinn’s chief executive.