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Cachexia is a fatal syndrome that develops in patients with chronic inflammatory conditions such as cancer, AIDS, and sepsis. There are over 400,000 cancer patients in the US with cachexia and over 5,000,000 patients suffering with clinical symptoms of the disease. It has been estimated that 2% of the general population is afflicted with early-stage cachexia (defined as weight loss in association with a chronic disease). It is not clear how many patients with early stage cachexia progress to late stage cachexia. It is, however, clear that the unmet medical need is large. Essentially, cachexia can afflict all persons with chronic diseases—or chronic inflammation. The prevalence of early stage cachexia is as high as 36% in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Twenty-two percent of all cancer-related deaths are believe to be directly caused by cachexia rather than by malignant tumor.
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