The Myeloma Institute is at the forefront of research. With a dedicated faculty conducting clinical as well as basic science research, we are at the cutting edge of scientific breakthroughs. Our patients benefit from the rapid transmission of laboratory findings to daily care in the clinical setting. Our program works collaboratively to investigate and develop new therapeutics for multiple myeloma and related diseases.
The Myeloma Institute has received continuous P01 grant funding from the National Cancer Institute for the Project Program “Growth Control of Multiple Myeloma” since 1993 for 20 consecutive years of uninterrupted funding. The objective of the P01 research is to improve growth control of multiple myeloma by dissecting and exploiting the molecular and biological consequences of the multiple myeloma – microenvironment interaction.
A hallmark of the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy is a program of clinical trials that challenge the traditional body of thought on disease treatment in order to improve outcomes.Clinical trials are studies to find new ways to prevent, detect and treat diseases. The purpose of each clinical trial is to answer a specific question. Our physicians carefully design these studies to find new ways to improve myeloma treatment. The physicians work in tandem with myeloma scientists to bring the “bench of research to the bedside of the patient” and back again to optimize diagnosis and treatments. Patients have access to the newest, cutting-edge therapies through enrollment onto physician investigator initiated clinical trials as part of a world-class clinical research program. The Myeloma Institute also participates in pharmaceutical industry trials in order to give patients access to some of the latest pharmaceutical advances, as well as partners with SWOG (formerly the Southwest Oncology Group) on collaborative, multi-center clinical trials.
The Myeloma Institute is the only facility in the world that routinely offers gene array analysis for newly referred patients and utilizes this information for patient management and planning of therapy. Researchers at the Myeloma Institute use state-of-the-art gene array analysis to characterize molecular features of myeloma. They can apply this knowledge to more accurately predict which patients will benefit the most from specific therapies. Read more about our Gene Array Analysis research.
Myeloma Institute scientists are also studying Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) in multiple myeloma. MRD refers to the remaining myeloma cells during or after treatment when the patient is in remission (no symptoms or signs of disease). Up until a few years ago, there was no test available that was sensitive enough to detect MRD. Our MRD research, led by Sarah Johnson, PhD, is to detect and enumerate by multiparameter flow cytometry residual tumor cells in patients with myeloma following high dose therapy, and to characterize these cells using highly sensitive molecular techniques. Hypothesizing that these cells are resistant to therapy and represent the cells responsible for eventual relapses, we expect that characterization of these cells will allow us to detect potential relapses much earlier than traditional methods and to incorporate therapeutic interventions designed specifically to target these cells.
The Myeloma Institute researchers are also studying Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), which is a disease in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells. In a healthy person, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells that become mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell. Lymphoid stem cells become a white blood cell and myeloid stem cells become either red blood cells, platelets or white blood cells.
In a patient with a myelodysplastic syndrome, the blood stem cells do not become healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. The immature blood cells (blasts) do not work the way they should and either die in the bone marrow or soon after they go into the blood, leaving less room for healthy white blood cells and greater risk of infection, anemia, or easy bleeding. Age and past treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy affect the risk of a myelodysplastic syndrome. For this research, Joshua Epstein, PhD is focused on developing a predictive model for patients at risk of developing MDS as a result of extensive myeloma therapy.
Other research being conducted at the Myeloma Institute: