Professor of Medicine
Director of Basic and Translational Research
Ramat Gan, Israel
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
Post-doctoral Fellowship, Pediatrics/Genetics Unit
Harvard University School of Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital
Plasma cell dyscrasias are a family of malignant diseased characterized by expansion of a clone of abnormal plasma cells which include the apparently benign monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS) and the malignant multiple myeloma. The malignant plasma cells reside in the bone marrow, where they are sustained by their microenvironment while inducing changes that result in the debilitating manifestations of osteolytic bone disease. The interactions of myeloma cells with the microenvironment is mediated through cell-cell contact and through soluble factors and are important for tumor cell survival and for progression from relatively benign stages to the most aggressive disease. While genetic events are associated with the characteristics of the tumor cells, epigenetic regulation of gene expression plays a key role in controlling the properties of the malignant clone. Among the mediators of epigenetics are microRNA molecules secreted from cells encased in protective membranes – exosomes – that transfer molecules from cell to cell in the immediate and remote sites, thus controlling the expression of genes. Dr. Epstein’s research is focused on understanding the roles of exosomal microRNA in the disease process – progression, risk, and resistance to therapy.