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Three pronged attack: Reducing bone disease, anaemia and sending myeloma cells back to sleep

Professor Claire Edwards is trying to understand how myeloma cells and other cells in the bone communicate. She hopes that understanding this will pave the way to develop new treatments for the disease.

The challenge

Nearly all people who have myeloma will first have had a blood disorder called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Interactions between myeloma cells and the surrounding cells in the bone marrow causes the myeloma to progress and the bones to weaken. Therefore, understanding these interactions is key to identifying new treatment approaches.

The project

Professor Claire Edwards has previously found that changes to a pathway which allows cells to communicate can be associated with the development of myeloma. Targeting proteins which are part of this pathway with drugs can reduce the bone disease and anaemia associated with myeloma, and researchers think that these drugs could also put the myeloma cells in a ‘sleeping’ state, where they no longer grow.
The team will now look at these drugs in more detail at different stages of the disease - MGUS, early multiple myeloma and multiple myeloma. They will also see if the drugs can be combined with chemotherapy to make an effective treatment.

The future

Researchers hope to find a new way to treat myeloma, and also find treatments to prevent the associated bone damage that the disease can cause.