Translational research programme

Cutting-edge research to better understand the genetics of myeloma, how myeloma drugs work and how we can use clinical data to drive improvements to treatments and care.

We invest in strategic research to drive innovation in treatments, increase survival times, improve quality of life and find a cure for myeloma.

Genetic research and myeloma

In 2008, we opened the first translational myeloma research centre at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London. The research programme was established to work towards an understanding of the genetic and other changes which drive myeloma. The work we fund aims to discover more about the genetics of myeloma and helps to develop personalised and stratified medicines to bring more effective treatments for patients.

Genetics play an important role in the onset and speed of progression in myeloma. By studying and understanding genetics, we can identify different treatments and create more ‘personalised’ healthcare for myeloma patients.

We run three different types of project at the centre:

  • We look at samples from patients, their relatives and non-patients. This type of research helps us understand why myeloma develops in the first place.
  • We also look at the cells of patients with myeloma to understand how it progresses and why certain treatments may stop working. This is an important part of identifying which drugs are most effective and, ultimately, finding a cure.
  • Taking different genetic profiles into account, we identify which drugs or combinations of drugs would make the best tailored treatment plan for a patient subgroup.

An individual approach

How myeloma progresses and how it responds to different treatments varies from person to person. This is why we take a personalised approach to medicine, rather than a one size fits all approach. Through our translational research, we have been able to tailor the care of patients into different subgroups. By collaborating with the Clinical Trial Network (CTN), the ICR analysed patient samples to individualise their treatment.

Clinical data and myeloma

Having the right information and evidence is critical for making improvements in patient care. Patient data is collected and digitally stored as part of routine clinical care. Collected together, this data has huge potential to improve patient care, but it is underutilized. For example, it could be used to learn how different approaches to treatment impact the quality of life and life expectancy of myeloma patients.  We are funding a pilot project at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to set up the processes and tackle the technical challenges of securely sharing de-identified patient data from different hospital systems.

Working together

In 2016, we joined forces with the Structural Genomics Consortium in Oxford. Together, we’re taking an innovative approach to improve the quality and speed of myeloma research. We are mapping the molecular targets of new and existing myeloma treatments and are making this information freely available, so other researchers can use it to build on our findings.

We also fund a clinical research Fellow at the Leeds Cancer Centre in Leeds University, where our Clinical Trials Coordinating Office is based. This research project includes looking at the immune system in myeloma, particularly in relation to MGUS. This research could provide a stepping stone to the creation of a simple blood test which can indicate the best type of treatment on a patient by patient basis.

Over the next few years, we expect to see genetic profiles become a key component in how myeloma is treated. We’ll also anticipate more clinical trials to examine how certain genetic subgroups respond to different treatments. We’re careful with our funding, and regularly review where it can make the most impact. As members of the AMRC, we review our impact on an annual basis. For more details, please visit the AMRC website.


If you’re a researcher interested in future open calls to be part of our Translational Research Programme, keep an eye on this page for opportunities. Or contact our team directly at

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