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Immune cells and the progression of smouldering myeloma to active myeloma

Principal investigator: Professor Kwee Yong

Institution: University College London

Award amount: £250,000

Duration: 3.5 years

Project status: Active

Defining the role of tumour directed T cell reactivity during disease progression from smouldering to multiple myeloma

A key research question is whether cancer could be prevented. Whether we could develop treatments to intervene at an earlier stage to stop cancer from developing.

Myeloma is caused by faulty plasma cells. Before developing myeloma, all patients have two earlier non-cancerous conditions, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and smouldering myeloma also caused by faulty plasma cells.

Smouldering myeloma is the intermediate stage which usually progresses to active myeloma, but at a slow rate. By studying the patients with smouldering myeloma, we can learn more about how and why smouldering myeloma progresses to myeloma.

This project will look at the role T-cells (a type of immune cell) play in the progression of smouldering myeloma to myeloma.

The immune system protects us from getting sick by removing harmful organisms (e.g., bacteria) and potentially harmful cells that have stopped working properly. As cancer develops it affects the immune system and the immune cells, like T-cells that recognise and remove the cancer cells reduce in number or work less effectively.

It aims to identify the T-cells that recognise and control myeloma cells and track them over time to see how they change as smouldering myeloma progresses.

How this research project will help myeloma patients

This research will help develop tools to accurately predict the patients likely to develop cancer and treatments for patients with smouldering myeloma to slow down or prevent the development of myeloma.