Zeroing in on a pathway that drives myeloma

Lead researcher - Professor Ulf Klein, University of Leeds
Cancer type - Myeloma
Deciphering the roles of NF-kappaB transcription factors in myeloma pathogenesis
Amount awarded: £249,967
Award start date: 01 Jun 2019
Award duration: 3 years (36 months)

Treating myeloma still remains a challenge. We need to find better treatments, and to do this, we need to gain a deeper understanding of the biology of the disease.

In myeloma, the NF-κB pathway (a group of proteins working together) is too active, which means it should be a good target for myeloma drugs. However, the pathway is a vital part of cell survival for many other healthy cells, so drugs that target NF-κB will do more damage than good. It may be possible to target just one part of the pathway in myeloma cells while leaving other cells undamaged. To find out whether this is the case, Professor Klein and his team are looking at a part of NF-κB called RELA that some myeloma cells seem to require for growth.

The team are investigating whether RELA is necessary for all myeloma cells, and whether other parts of the NF-κB pathway might also be specific to myeloma in some patients. They will also explore the role that NF-κB plays in uncontrolled growth of myeloma cells and to see whether it’s possible to identify which people with myeloma have this kind of NF-κB activity.

If they are successful, their work could be the beginning of developing new therapies that target specific parts of NF-κB, providing much-needed new drugs that could treat not only myeloma but many other kinds of cancer.