Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has just announced research updates on multiple myeloma and waldenstrom macroglobulinemia which indicate significant progress in the search for treatments for these diseases.
1) There are recognizable shifts in the immune system of multiple myeloma patients, even at very early stages of the disease.
These changes were discovered even in the premalignant stage of patients with precursor conditions such as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). This is significant because these changes can be examined even before the patient develops symptoms. They include:
- an increase in macrophages
- an increase in T cells
- an increase in immune system cells known as the “natural killer cells”
- changes in surface molecules on plasma cells (making these cells more difficult to detect by the immune system)
If we can diagnose the abnormality sooner, even before the patient has symptoms, the better opportunity we have to improve the lives of multiple myeloma patients. The goal is that we will be able to use immunotherapy to prevent/intercept disease progression by targeting the changes in these immune cells.
That could make multiple myeloma a preventable disease.
2) Results from a Phase 2 trial show a combination of drugs could be an effective treatment for those living with high-risk smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM).
29 patients participated in the trial, aiming to examine the effect of combining ixazomib, dexamethasone, and lenalidomide. For patients who were given at least three cycles of these drugs, 89% had at least a 30% reduction of SMM. For 5 of these patients, all signs of cancer were eliminated completely.
The combination of these three drugs also showed minimal toxicities and predominately mild to moderate side effects.
3) Researchers have found that the ID2 protein is underproduced in multiple myeloma patients.
ID2 works to reduce tumor growth, meaning when levels of ID2 are low, cancer tumors will grow at a greater rate. But, now that researchers know that multiple myeloma patients have decreased levels of ID2, they can work to block the proteins that keep ID2 production low.
They conducted a study with 360 multiple myeloma patients. In each of these patients they found a reduced level of ID2. However, when they increased the level of ID2, overexpressing it, the myeloma cell proliferation rate dropped.
4) Researchers are conducting a study to analyze populations who are at greater risk for multiple myeloma.
They will specifically be looking at what changes occur as precursor conditions progress to multiple myeloma.
Participants must provide blood samples, complete an online questionnaire, and update their health data periodically. You can find more about the study, eligibility, and, if you are interested, how to sign up here.
5) Researchers have created a model to help determine the risk level smoldering waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (SWM) patients have for developing waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia (WM).
The risk assessment includes four different biomarkers-
- bone marrow lymphoplasmacytic infiltration
- serum immunoglobulin M levels
- β2 microglobulin levels
- albumin levels
The hope is that this risk assessment will help facilitate earlier intervention for patients who need it and an overall improvement in the monitoring of SWM patients.
You can read more about all five of these new developments for multiple myeloma and WM here.