Overcoming survival signalling in Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a blood cancer affecting plasma cells, a type of white blood cell located in the bone marrow. It affects the bones, kidneys and causes patients to have frequent infections. There are approximately 250 new cases diagnosed in Ireland annually. MM is not curable and although the treatment for this condition improved significantly in the past 20 years, MM patients will eventually stop responding to treatments available. Our aim is to study how the cancerous plasma cells responsible for this condition change so that they are no longer affected by the drugs used to treat MM i.e. how they become resistant to treatment.
Research in this area has revealed that a particular protein found in the MM plasma cells, called AKT, is an important component for helping the cancer cells to overcome the current available treatments and survive. A new drug which can target this protein is available and has been shown to be effective in patients for whom previous drugs for MM no longer work. This drug shows promise, but by itself is unlikely to greatly change the outcome and survival of patients with MM, as patients will eventually become resistant to this drug as well.
We aim to study the changes that take place in the MM cancer cells when treated by this drug and how the drug effects the cancer cells. Then we will try to identify other important proteins and/or components utilised by the cancer cell that maybe responsible for developing resistance to treatments. Finally we will evaluate and develop these new targets and other components using tests in the laboratory.
The overall objective of this study will be to provide evidence for the action of this new drugs and lead to new discoveries in the treatment of MM and allow for new therapeutic approaches to be administered for MM patients, for whom no further treatments currently exist.

Award Date
15 May 2016
Award Value
€163,430
Principal Investigator
Dr Niamh Keane
Host Institution
National University of Ireland, Galway
Scheme
Research Training Fellowships for Healthcare Professionals