Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Cancer Researchers Discover Root Cause of Multiple Myeloma Relapse

Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Clinical researchers have discovered why multiple myeloma persistently escapes cure by an initially effective treatment.

The reason, explains research published online today in Cancer Cell, is intrinsic resistance found in immature progenitor cells that are the root cause of the disease – and relapse – says principal investigator Dr. Rodger Tiedemann, a hematologist specializing in multiple myeloma and lymphoma at the Princess Margaret, University Health Network (UHN). Dr. Tiedemann is also an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

The research demonstrates that the progenitor cells are untouched by mainstay therapy that uses a proteasome inhibitor drug ("Velcade") to kill the plasma cells that make up most of the tumour. The progenitor cells then proliferate and mature to reboot the disease process, even in patients who appeared to be in complete remission.

"Our findings reveal a way forward toward a cure for multiple myeloma, which involves targeting both the progenitor cells and the plasma cells at the same time," says Dr. Tiedemann. "Now that we know that progenitor cells persist and lead to relapse after treatment, we can move quickly into clinical trials, measure this residual disease in patients, and attempt to target it with new drugs or with drugs that may already exist.

In tackling the dilemma of treatment failure, the researchers identified a cancer cell maturation hierarchy within multiple myeloma tumors and demonstrated the critical role of myeloma cell maturation in proteasome inhibitor sensitivity. The implication is clear for current drug research focused on developing new proteasome inhibitors: targeting this route alone will never cure multiple myeloma.

Dr. Tiedemann says: "If you think of multiple myeloma as a weed, then proteasome inhibitors such as Velcade are like a persnickety goat that eats the mature foliage above ground, producing a remission, but doesn't eat the roots, so that one day the weed returns."

The research team initially analyzed high-throughput screening assays of 7,500 genes in multiple myeloma cells to identify effectors of drug response, and then studied bone marrow biopsies from patients to further understand their results. The process identified two genes (IRE1 and XBP1) that modulate response to the proteasome inhibitor Velcade and the mechanism underlying the drug resistance that is the barrier to cure.

Dr. Tiedemann is part of the latest generation of cancer researchers at UHN building on the international legacy of Drs. James Till and the late Ernest McCulloch, who pioneered a new field of science in 1961 with their discovery that some cells ("stem cells") can self-renew repeatedly.

The science has continued to advance unabated ever since, and notably with key discoveries by Dr. John Dick of cancer stem cells first in leukemia and next in colon cancer.  Dr. Tiedemann's new findings underscore the clinical importance of understanding how cells are organized in the disease process.

The research was funded by the Canadian Cancer Society, the Molly and David Bloom Chair in Multiple Myeloma Research, the Arthur Macaulay Cushing Estate and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Scientific News
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Mathematical Model Forecasts the Path of Breast Cancer
Chances of survival depend on which organs breast cancer tumors colonize first.
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Nanocarriers May Carry New Hope for Brain Cancer Therapy
Berkeley lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier.
RNA-Based Drugs Give More Control Over Gene Editing
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique can be transiently activated and inactivated using RNA-based drugs, giving researchers more precise control in correcting and inactivating genes.
University of Glasgow Researchers Make An Impact in 60 Seconds
Early-career researchers were invited to submit an engaging, dynamic and compelling 60 second video illuminating an aspect of their research.
Metabolic Profiles Distinguish Early Stage Ovarian Cancer with Unprecedented Accuracy
Studying blood serum compounds of different molecular weights has led scientists to a set of biomarkers that may enable development of a highly accurate screening test for early-stage ovarian cancer.
Dead Bacteria to Kill Colorectal Cancer
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have successfully used dead bacteria to kill colorectal cancer cells.
CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing: Check Three Times, Cut Once
Two new studies from UC Berkeley should give scientists who use CRISPR-Cas9 for genome engineering greater confidence that they won’t inadvertently edit the wrong DNA.
Genetically Engineering Algae to Kill Cancer Cells
New interdisciplinary research has revealed the frontline role tiny algae could play in the battle against cancer, through the innovative use of nanotechnology.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos