Identifying the Causes of Myeloma

A major aim in conquering multiple myeloma is to prevent its development through a focus on early screening and prevention. Key elements include:

  • Understanding the underlying causes of myeloma – environmental and/or genetic
  • Designing strategies to prevent precursor states of multiple myeloma – MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) and smoldering myeloma – from developing into active myeloma
  • Deciphering how inherited genetic factors interact with cancer cells to influence disease progression and outcome

Myeloma development starts when a normal plasma cell develops features of a myeloma cancer stem cell and continues to acquire abnormalities until it becomes a fully cancerous cell.

We have already identified seven genes that increase susceptibility to the disease process and thus increase the likelihood of myeloma development.

Next steps in our research include:

  • Identifying rare genetic variants that increase risk within a family through DNA analysis
  • Studying the impact of inherited factors on treatment effectiveness
  • Investigating how inherited factors affect the normal biology of the myeloma cell so we can design strategies to normalize the environment and prevent disease progression
  • Designing prevention and early intervention strategies

Myeloma Center researchers are well-versed in advanced technologies, such as next generation sequencing, that enable in-depth study of myeloma development at the molecular level.