UAMS Myeloma Institue
Founded in 1989 by Dr. Bart Barlogie, the Myeloma Center program has grown from a unique initiative focused on multiple myeloma, which, at the time, received only minimal attention and had a dismal survival record, into a high-patient-volume center renowned for excellence in research and patient care and greatly improved survival.

The Myeloma Center was the first to:

  • use tandem peripheral blood stem cell transplants (also known as bone marrow transplants)
  • perform transplants on an outpatient basis
  • safely transplant patients age 70 and above
  • introduce thalidomide as anti-angiogenesis therapy
  • identify molecular subgroups of myeloma
  • develop distinct treatment strategies for high-risk and low-risk myeloma, as defined by gene expression profiling

An enduring hallmark of the Myeloma Center has been a program of well-designed clinical trials that challenge the traditional body of thought on disease treatment in order to improve outcomes.  Our long-term follow-up on patients provides a large amount of statistically valid data critical for developing curative therapies.

Facts and Firsts

The Myeloma Center has pioneered novel advances in diagnosing and treating myeloma and related diseases, including Castleman Disease, Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia, POEMS Syndrome, and Amyloidosis. The following is a list of just some of the breakthroughs and “firsts” at the Myeloma Center.

1989   Introduced Tandem Transplant approach

1991   First outpatient stem cell transplant

1993   Awarded first-ever Program Project grant for myeloma from the National Cancer Institute

1995   Created prediction model for stem cell collection

1996   Discovered “graft versus myeloma” effect in allogeneic transplantation

1997   Introduced Thalidomide as an anti-angiogenesis treatment

1998   First to utilize PET scan for diagnosis and assessment of treatment response

1998   Created SCID-hu mouse model for growing patient myeloma cells

1998   Second total therapy trial (Total Therapy II) opened; 668 patients were enrolled

1999   Lambert Laboratory for Molecular Genetics was established

1999   First to utilize Gene Expression Profiling (GEP) to characterize disease

2002   Identified myeloma genes using GEP and developed gene-based classification of myeloma

2004   Performed 5,000th stem cell transplant

2004   Discovered that the protein coding gene DKK-1 contributes to bone destruction

2006   Identified seven molecular genetic subtypes of myeloma and their bearing on prognosis

2007   Nancy and Stephen Grand Laboratory for Myeloma Proteomics was established

2007   Discovered that expression of 17 specific genes can be used to predict response to therapy

2007   First to use GEP for risk stratification and assignment to therapy

2008   Total Therapy IV and Total Therapy V open

2008  Total Therapy IV is the first clinical trial for low-risk myeloma as defined by GEP

2008  Total Therapy V is the first clinical trial for high-risk myeloma as defined by GEP

2009   Total Therapy VI for previously treated but not transplanted patients opens

2009   Gregory R. Pacheco Lab for Castleman Disease Research was established

2009   Discovered that 14 genes are differently expressed by two subgroups of high-risk myeloma

2011   Expanded Natural Killer Cell treatment protocol for patients with high-risk relapsed myeloma was initiated

2011   10,000th patient treated

2012   Developed and validated genomic signatures for predicting response to treatment

2013   Updated analyses of Total Therapy I, II and III trials indicate success in using myeloma-effective agents up front to prevent outgrowth of resistant tumor cells that              account for relapses

2014   Determined that infusion of large numbers of expanded Natural Killer Cells is feasible and safe

2014   10+ year follow-up indicates that cure is achievable for patients with low-risk myeloma

2015   Determined that four genes predict high risk of progression from smoldering to active myeloma.