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Highlights from the UK Myeloma Forum Scientific Workshop

The 2019 UK Myeloma Forum Scientific Workshop took place on 13 March 2019 in London. Representatives from Myeloma UK attended the meeting to learn about key developments in myeloma research.

Research news // 26th April 2019

The UK Myeloma Forum (UKMF) is a collaborative organisation of healthcare professionals and scientists which aims to improve the treatment of patients with myeloma. The annual UKMF Scientific Workshop is an all-day event where leading experts share the latest biomedical research aiming to improve understanding of myeloma and develop new strategies to improve patient outcomes. This year’s theme was “Myeloma Patient Journey – Early Diagnosis to Resistant Disease”.

The morning session discussed some of the research looking at ways to improve myeloma diagnosis and the afternoon session focused on current research investigating resistance mechanisms in myeloma.

Some of our highlights from the day included the following talks:

Protein dynamics in early disease, Professor Mark Drayson, University of Birmingham

Prof Drayson discussed how combining M-protein and serum Free Light Chain results could help aid faster myeloma diagnosis. He showed how a defined cut-off level of M-protein and extended reference range for serum Free Light Chain analysis could help better identify myeloma patients but filter out monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) patients.

Delay in myeloma diagnosis, Dr Constantinos Koshiaris, University of Oxford

Dr Koshiaris shared his recent research indicating that results from routine blood tests, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and plasma viscosity (PV), could be used as a simple rule-out approach for patients that present with myeloma related symptoms and to flag patients requiring further tests to rule out myeloma diagnosis.

Early diagnosis – Learnings from iStopMM study, Professor Sigurdur Kristensson, University of Iceland

Prof Sigurdur Kristensson shared details of the iStoppMM study currently running in Iceland. The iStopMM is large randomised controlled trial in the Icelandic population evaluating whether routine screening for MGUS, smouldering myeloma and myeloma is feasible. The trial tests for M-protein in surplus blood that had been taken for routine testing from people who have consented to iStopMM. The trial will investigate the psychological impact of MGUS, look at optimum follow-up of MGUS and smouldering myeloma, look for approaches to early diagnosis and provide prevalence data for MGUS and smouldering myeloma.

Role of immune system in development of resistant myeloma, Professor Gordon Cook, St James’s Institute of Oncology

Prof Gordon Cook shared research looking at the role of the immune system in development of resistant myeloma. He discussed how immune function changes with age and the way myeloma uses and interacts with immune system changes over the course of the disease. This indicates that researchers developing immunotherapies need to consider these changes when designing new treatments.

Metabolic mechanisms of resistance, Dr Holger Auner, Imperial College London

Dr Auner covered the growing research looking at how cell metabolism is exploited in resistance. It is hoped this can help identify new approaches to myeloma treatment involving combinations of anti-myeloma treatments and drugs designed to evade resistance.

The talks and presentations at the UKMF Scientific Workshop highlighted the importance of understanding the full myeloma patient journey to improve patient outcomes.