Today is the start of Myeloma Awareness Week in the UK, which runs from 21–28 June. With nearly 4,000 new cases of myeloma in the UK every year, this is an important week for those living with, or touched by this blood cancer.
Myeloma is a cancer that affects the plasma cells in the blood, which are an important part of our immune system that fights infection. Myeloma develops in the bone marrow and causes bone disease that is both painful and debilitating.
Dr David Grant, Scientific Director at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research says, “Breakthroughs in research have been really important in developing new, more effective treatments and as such there has been a dramatic increase in five-year survival for patients touched by myeloma. Though sadly, there is still no permanent cure.”
We are currently investing £5 million into new ground-breaking research and clinical trials that are continuing to improve treatments and diagnosis for patients and work towards beating myeloma.
One of our largest myeloma research teams is based at the University of Sheffield. Here our expert scientists, led by Professor Peter Croucher have broken through in understanding the causes of myeloma bone disease, which is a terrible consequence of this blood cancer.
Professor Croucher has developed a new drug that repairs the bone lesions that develop in myeloma patients. This drug is in clinical trials across Europe, and improving quality of life for patients.
Dr Andrew Chantry, a colleague of Professor Croucher has developed a drug that prevents bone damage, and is also being tested in clinical trials. Further research has show that these exciting new treatments have an anti-cancer effect and are prolonging survival for patients, enabling us to work towards a final cure for myeloma.
Our research teams in Southampton are developing DNA vaccines that can be used to treat myeloma. These vaccines manipulate patients’ own immune systems to fight the cancer in their blood and are likely to be an important for patients who do not respond to other treatments.
We are also running clinical trials around the UK that are testing new treatments in patients with myeloma. Clinical trials are vital to move breakthroughs in research into new treatments that are widely available to patients.
Dr Kim Orchard at Southampton General Hospital is running a clinical trial testing a new treatment that delivers a new radioactive isotope direct to the bone marrow, eradicating the cancer cells, without damaging patient’s own healthy cells.
Earlier on this year, we updated our booklet on multiple myeloma to include the most up to date information on treatments, which you can view, download or order from us for free. You may also like to contact someone in our Patient Information team on 020 7685 1051 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to make a donation to support our research into myeloma you can do this online or by calling Hannah on 020 7269 9008.
Find out more about events happening around the country to mark Myeloma Awareness Week.