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How we're beating myeloma

Posted by
12 Apr 2010

Around 4,000 people are diagnosed with myeloma in the UK every year. At present there is no permanent cure for this blood cancer, but treatments are fast improving.

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is currently investing around £4 million into research across the UK to find new and better treatments for people touched by myeloma.

This includes leading research to develop new drugs that prevent and repair bone damage caused by myeloma, state of the art stem cell research and ground breaking clinical trials.

Pioneering new drugs

Our researchers in Sheffield are developing new drugs to prevent and relieve debilitating bone disease caused by myeloma.

This research, which we have been supporting for many years, has led to one of the most significant improvements in the treatment of myeloma in the last 20 years. The team aim to significantly improve current treatments by testing a range of new compounds which can stimulate the bone formation process and help regrowth of healthy bone. This new approach to tackling myeloma will target the cancer and, for the first time, not just halt bone damage, but also repair it.

We continue to invest in research to develop new drugs that will improve the quality of life for patients with this blood cancer.


Refining treatments

A large proportion of myeloma patients develop resistance to standard chemotherapy drugs, and so new, refined treatments are desperately needed.

Our scientists in London are investigating treatment resistance against a particular myeloma drug, called Bortezomib, which occurs in the majority of myeloma patients. This drug works by targeting specific molecules in the myeloma cells, which causes them to die.

A small proportion of myeloma cells are resistant to Bortezomib and survive, going on to produce a strain of resistant blood cancer cells that cannot be treated. Understanding how treatment resistance develops will lead to more effective treatments.

Further research, also in London is focused on making current myeloma treatments safer, so that patients develop fewer side effects. This research is investigating ways of targeting myeloma cells more accurately, minimising the damage to healthy cells.

Using the body's own immune system

Our team in Birmingham are harnessing cells from the immune system and genetically engineering them to create ‘assassin’ cells that kill myeloma cells.

By adding DNA to the T cells, they can be re-programmed to specifically target myeloma cells, whilst stopping them from also attacking healthy cells.  Recent clinical trials of these ‘assassin’ cells have been successful in reducing skin cancer with few side effects.

Myeloma stem cells

Cancer stem cells that are the root cause of this disease have been identified in many forms of blood cancer. Developing treatments that target stem cells will enable us to eradicate blood cancers at their source.

Our scientists in London are looking for cancer stem cells that cause myeloma so that more effective treatments can be developed.

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