Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma - Personalized Medicine

Personalized Medicine in practice; Discovery of Potential Proteomic Biomarkers For Predicting the Drug Response in Patients with Multiple Myeloma.

Personalized medicine is about making the treatment as individualized as the disease. It involves identifying genetic, proteomic, and other related information that allows accurate predictions to be made about a person's response to a treatment.

Multiple Myeloma (MM) is an incurable blood cancer characterized by a proliferation of malignant plasma cells. Chemotherapy has been the mainstay of treatment of Multiple Myeloma for many decades. Currently, high dose chemotherapy with autologous stem cell transplant is the standard therapy for younger patients (< 65 yrs) who are able to tolerate this treatment. However, for the majority of Myeloma patients, immunomodulators (Thalidomide/Lenalidomide) or a Proteasome Inhibitor (Bortezomib) are generally considered to be first line treatment. The side effects of anticancer therapies are well known and anti-myeloma medications are no exception. This blanket approach is associated with significant toxicity. While the response vs. lack of response to therapy can be detected and monitored on an ongoing basis (e.g. by measuring serum M-protein, serum free light chain assay, B2M, assessment of percentage of plasma cell in the bone marrow, whole body MRI & skeletal survey to monitor bony lesions), there is no way of predicting response to specific therapeutic agents in advance of treatment. Such information would undoubtedly aid in choosing the best possible treatment.

Scientists at NICB are working in collaboration with Dr. Peter O'Gorman in the Mater Hospital and with colleagues Dr. Ken Anderson and Dr. Paul Richardson at the Dana Farber Institute in Harvard Medical School to discover a panel of proteomic biomarkers which may be useful in the predicting sensitivity and response to anti-myeloma therapies in each individual multiple myeloma patient. This will provide clinicians with the scientific rationale for choosing specific targeted therapies and avoiding therapies which may be ineffective and exposes patient to unnecessary side effects. This approach aims to minimize that one-size-fits-all approach by matching each patient to a specific treatment based on the proteomic characteristics of that person's malignancy. This will provide clinicians with an objective laboratory tests for choosing specific targeted therapies and avoiding therapies which may be ineffective and exposes patient to unnecessary side effects.


Martin Clynes (

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  • Rajpal R, Dowling P, Murphy P, Murphy W, Meiller J, Anderson KC, Richardson PG, O'Connor R, Clynes M, O'Gorman P.  (2008) Prediction of Thalidomide Response in the Newly Diagnosed Untreated Multiple Myeloma Patients Based on a panel of Protein Biomarkers. 50th ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition December 6-9, 2008, San Francisco, USA. Blood 2008 112: Abstract 5018

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