Researcher Talks: Dan Tennant on multiple myeloma and MGUS
“I'm Dan Tennant and I lead a research group at the University of Birmingham. In my research group, we work on the micro-environment of the tumour. This is the part of the tumour that isn't actually the cancer cells themselves, but it's the place that they grow. And there are other cells around the tumour that contribute, we know now, to the way that the tumour forms, the way it grows, and they actually support it giving it both nutrients and actually taking away some of the toxins.
The project grant, which is funded by Bloodwise, is to look at multiple myeloma and the disease that it comes before this, which is a benign disease but predisposes patients to go on and develop myeloma. And this is called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance – or MGUS.
We think that by looking at MGUS, which is this benign disease, we can actually find a way of treating patients before they get to myeloma, which might improve survival. What we have found during our project is that there are changes in the architecture of the DNA, in the mesenchymal stem cells, the stromal cells of the bone marrow, which helps support the myeloma cells and actually makes them resistant to some of the chemotherapies. And importantly, this happens before they've even had the chemotherapy, at the point at which these patients have MGUS, which currently isn't treated because it's not symptomatic. This work wouldn’t be possible without the very generous support of everybody who gives to Bloodwise.
This kind of research is really important to help people with myeloma because, as I said before, this disease at the moment is incurable and only with this research can we actually get to a point that we have a chance of curing patients.”