Researchers discover underlying cause of myeloma

February 11, 2016 by Vicky Agnew, Yale University
Researchers discover underlying cause of myeloma

Yale Cancer Center researchers have identified what causes a third of all myelomas, a type of cancer affecting plasma cells. The findings, published Feb. 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine, could fundamentally change the way this cancer and others are treated.

Multiple is a cancer involving the growth of , which are immune cells that make antibodies to fight infection. Uncontrolled growth of these cells leads to anemia, bone pain, kidney problems, Gaucher disease, and myeloma. Despite recent advances, including several new FDA-approved therapies for myeloma, the disease remains incurable, and nearly all patients eventually die from it. The causes of this cancer have remained a mystery until now.

Senior author Dr. Madhav Dhodapkar, the Arthur H. and Isabel Bunker Professor of Medicine and Immunobiology, and chief of Hematology, said the study, using tissue and blood samples from humans and mice, shows that chronic stimulation of the immune system by lipids made in the context of inflammation underlies the origins of at least a third of all myeloma cases.

"Understanding the origin of any cancer has several implications for how to best prevent it," Dhodapkar said. "These studies set the stage for newer approaches to lower the levels of these lipids in patients with Gaucher disease and others with precursors for myeloma. Potentially, this could be achieved with drugs or lifestyle changes to reduce the levels of lipids to lower the risk of cancer."

The new findings build on prior research from the Dhodapkar lab demonstrating that patients with Gaucher disease, an inherited lipid storage disorder, have a significant increased risk for developing myeloma; the researchers also discovered a subset of lipid-reactive , called type II NKT-TFH, that promote the development of plasma cells.

Researchers used tissue and to show that the gammopathy (a precursor to myeloma) in both mice and patients with Gaucher disease is triggered by specific lipids, and that the antibodies made by tumor cells in nearly a third of myeloma patients are directed against such lipids.

Explore further: Researchers find new pathway underlying multiple myeloma relapse

Related Stories

Researchers find new pathway underlying multiple myeloma relapse

December 8, 2015
One of the biggest questions about the treatment of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, is why nearly all patients treated with current therapies eventually suffer relapse. A Yale Cancer Center study may have solved ...

Empliciti approved for multiple myeloma

November 30, 2015
(HealthDay)—Empliciti (elotuzumab), in combination with two other drugs, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma. The drug is only approved for patients who ...

Scientists find evidence of how incurable cancer develops

October 16, 2015
Researchers in the West Midlands have made a breakthrough in explaining how an incurable type of blood cancer develops from an often symptomless prior blood disorder. The findings could lead to more effective treatments and ...

Study lays groundwork for blood test to aid in the detection and monitoring of myeloma

September 30, 2015
Virtually all patients who develop myeloma have an asymptomatic disease called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) in the years before the onset of myeloma. The five-year relative survival rate for myeloma ...

Multiple myeloma patient study shows promise for natural killer cells

December 7, 2015
A first-in-human Phase I study of multiple myeloma patients combined expanded cord blood-derived natural killer cells with transplantation of a patient's own stem cells and high-dose chemotherapy with little or none of the ...

Rates of kidney failure due to blood cancer are declining

October 29, 2015
The risk of kidney failure caused by multiple myeloma appears to be declining, and survival is lengthening for patients who do develop kidney failure due to this cancer. The findings, which are published in a study appearing ...

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.