Early intervention could prevent myeloma from taking root

Posted: 11 July 2016 | Victoria White, Digital Content Producer | 1 comment

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have revealed how a common condition called ‘MGUS’ can develop into myeloma…

Researchers have revealed how a common condition called MGUS (Monoclonal Gammopathy of Unknown Significance) can develop into myeloma.

Scientists from University of Birmingham discovered that changes in the bone marrow needed for myeloma have already taken hold in patients with MGUS. Their discovery raises the possibility that early medical intervention could prevent the cancer from developing.

The researchers showed that early on in MGUS development, cells that make up the bone marrow connective tissue become more supportive of cancer growth. The PADI2 gene becomes particularly overactive in these connective tissue cells, which leads to the overproduction of interleukin-6 (IL-6). Connective tissue cells release IL-6 into the bone marrow, where it binds with receptors on the surface of cancerous plasma cells, instructing them to multiply rapidly and resist apoptosis signals.

Targeting PADI2

The researchers believe that drugs designed to target PADI2 in MGUS and myeloma patients could reduce the supportive signalling that myeloma cells depend on, and may increase the effectiveness of current treatments.

Explaining more about the significance of the research, Dr Daniel Tennant said: “It is now clear that the bone marrow of patients with MGUS, traditionally thought of as a benign condition, is significantly different to that of healthy individuals. The bone marrow environment in these patients appears capable of supporting cancer growth, even though the majority of patients will not progress to myeloma. While this research is in the early stages, it offers the exciting possibility that early intervention could potentially delay or even prevent cancer development.”

The research was supported by the blood cancer charity, Bloodwise. Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research at the charity, said: “With an increasing elderly population, MGUS and myeloma are only going to become more common. Drugs designed to remove the support system myeloma uses to grow could be an effective way of treating the disease, or even preventing it altogether.”

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