Reversing treatment resistance in myeloma

Lead researcher - Dr Salvatore Papa, University of Leeds
Cancer type - Myeloma
Inhibiting key drivers of aerobic glycolysis to enhance anti-myeloma activity of current therapies
Amount awarded: £245,044
Award start date: 04 Feb 2018
Award duration: 3 years (36 months)

Structures called proteasomes help cells break up proteins they don’t need down into smaller parts. Cells can then recycle these to make proteins that they do need. Drugs called proteasome inhibitors are used to treat myeloma. These drugs stop proteasomes from working, leading to a build up of unwanted proteins in the cancer cells, causing them to die.

Clinical trials have shown that proteasome inhibitors can help treat myeloma without any major side effects. But despite having a good response to proteasome inhibitors at first, some people rapidly stop responding.

Dr Salvatore Papa and his team at the University of Leeds are investigating a way to make myeloma cells more sensitive to proteasome inhibitors. They have found that myeloma cells which are resistant to these drugs need high levels of a sugar called glucose to survive. The team want to run a series of experiments in the lab which will stop the myeloma cells relying on glucose, so they become sensitive to proteasome inhibitors again.

Their work could pave the way for new drug combinations that could help people whose myeloma is resistant to treatment.