13 May 2022

A charity is backing a new drive to develop screening for myeloma in the hope of improving early diagnosis – and possibly prevent the disease.

The charity Myeloma UK has invested £500,000 in two projects aimed at improving diagnosis of the disease.

Professor Chris Bunce, Professor of Translational Cancer Biology at the University of Birmingham, said the funding had “broken resistance” to the idea of screening for myeloma.

His project aims to understand the progression of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) to myeloma. The aim is to predict which people will develop myeloma and discover potential ways to prevent or slow this progression.

The second project receiving funding from Myeloma UK is one led by Professor Kwee Yong, a consultant haematologist at University College London Hospitals. Her research will seek to understand the impact of smouldering myeloma on T-cells, with a view to developing tools to predict patients likely to develop cancer and evaluate treatments to slow down or prevent this.

Professor Bunce said: “I am delighted to have this funding from Myeloma UK. It has broken some resistance that we’ve been feeling and is actually quite a courageous step to support this innovation that could find out what we need to have in place to be able to instigate screening and how we could intervene early and prevent myeloma from occurring in the first place.

“This is an immensely challenging but important research question to tackle.”

Professor Yong said: “We hope that with the results of our work, we can make a real difference to the outcome of our patients with smouldering myeloma and with myeloma.”

Shelagh McKinlay, acting director of research at Myeloma UK, said: “The early symptoms are vague, and myeloma is relatively rare, so it is difficult to suspect, and, while education and policy change is really important, to make big changes, we need research. We need to discover new, better approaches to spot myeloma as early as possible so we can intervene before people get seriously ill.

“We hope this work will deliver the transformative change needed to improve myeloma diagnosis and give every patient the best chance of a long life, free from restrictive complications caused by late diagnosis.”

Source: Myeloma UK


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