Doctors are working to learn more about myeloma, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials . Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.
Expanded use of stem cell transplantation. While autologous (AUTO) stem cell transplantation is a standard treatment for myeloma, researchers are studying the benefits of tandem (double) AUTO transplantations, ALLO transplantations, and tandem AUTO mini-allogeneic transplantations. Autologous means the stem cells are from the patient, and allogeneic means that the stem cells came from a donor. (For more information on transplantation, read the Treatment  section.)
New drugs. Rapid progress is being made in researching new treatments of myeloma. Several new drugs are being studied for the treatment of myeloma:
- A monoclonal antibody is a substance made in a laboratory that acts like the antibodies the body’s immune system naturally makes to fight diseases such as a tumor. Many of these drugs are being studied for multiple myeloma, such as elotuzumab. Clinical trials using elotuzumab, usually in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone, are underway.
- Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors are an area of active research for their anti-myeloma effects, both as single drugs and in combination with other drug therapy. Drugs in this category include panobinostat.
- The fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) is expressed in approximately 15% of patients with myeloma and is involved in cell growth, angiogenesis, and wound healing. Drugs that inhibit FGFR3 are being developed to help control cancer in these patients.
- The oral drug perifosine, an AKT inhibitor, is being investigated for its possible use in myeloma.
- Pomalidomide (Actimid) has shown promising results in clinical trials.
- Studies are also underway with a drug called masitinib.
Myeloma represents a new treatment paradigm (a set of assumptions and practices) in cancer because the new drugs that target the tumor cell, tumor-bone marrow interaction, and bone marrow environment can overcome conventional drug resistance. Drugs are first tested in patients with advanced myeloma and then used to treat patients with earlier stage myeloma.
Drug combinations. Most myeloma cells will eventually become resistant to standard chemotherapy, a condition called multidrug resistance. New drugs and combinations of approved drugs are being researched to provide more options for patients with myeloma. Several drug combinations are being studied:
- Thalidomide, bortezomib, and dexamethasone
- Bortezomib and lenalidomide
- Bortezomib, lenalidomide, dexamethasone, and cyclophosphamide
- Lenalidomide, dexamethasone, and clarithromycin (Biaxin)
Immunotherapy. This therapy, also called biologic therapy, helps to boost a person's immune system to fight cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to bolster, target, or restore immune system function. Vaccines are a type of immunotherapy being explored in the treatment of multiple myeloma. Learn more about immunotherapy .
Cytogenetics. Cytogenetics (the study of genetic changes in cells) and molecular studies may be performed on the tissue sample removed during the biopsy to show how aggressive the cancer is.
Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current myeloma treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.
Learn more about common statistical terms used in cancer research .
Looking for More about Current Research?
If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding myeloma, explore this related item:
- To find clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, talk with your doctor or search online clinical trial databases now .
- Review research announced at recent ASCO Annual Meetings: Treatment With Lenalidomide Delays Myeloma Recurrence  and Anti-Depressant Helps Manage Peripheral Neuropathy From Chemotherapy 
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