Research into myeloma

Researchers in the UK are looking at better ways to diagnose and treat myeloma. 

Some of the trials on this page have now stopped recruiting people. It takes time for the results to be available. We have included ongoing research. This is to give examples of the type of research going on for myeloma.

Go to Cancer Research UK’s clinical trials database if you are looking for a trial for myeloma in the UK. You need to talk to your specialist if there are any trials that you think you might be able to take part in.

All cancer treatments must be fully researched before they can be used for everyone. This is so we can be sure that:

  • they work
  • they work better than the treatments already available
  • they are safe

Research into tests to diagnose and monitor myeloma

Doctors use PET-CT scans Open a glossary item to look for bone damage, and to find out how well treatment is working. Researchers are looking at PET-MRI scans  as an alternative test. They think this type of scan can give more information about your myeloma. This might help doctors find out earlier if treatment is working or not.

Monitoring for myeloma
Some people have conditions that can progress to symptomatic myeloma. For example:

  • asymptomatic (smouldering) myeloma
  • monoclonal gammopathies of undetermined significance (MGUS)

Several studies are looking at these conditions. Researchers want to understand more about the genetic changes in the abnormal cells. And hope to find new biological markers to try and identify which people are more likely to develop myeloma.

They want to understand more about how myeloma develops. And what types of treatment might work.

Research into treatment for myeloma

Researchers want to improve treatment for people with myeloma. They are looking at:

  • different treatment combinations for people with certain gene Open a glossary item changes (high risk myeloma)
  • different treatment combinations for relapsed Open a glossary item myeloma
  • how to give certain targeted drugs
  • treatment for people who are unable to have a stem cell transplant
  • treatment for smouldering myeloma 

Targeted cancer drugs

Targeted cancer drugs can change the way that cells work and help the body control the growth of myeloma. Researchers are testing many types of targeted drugs for myeloma.

Some of these drugs are already standard treatment for myeloma. Doctors are looking at different combinations and when it is best to use them. They are also studying new targeted drugs including:

  • DTP3
  • belantamab mafodotin  
  • inobrodib
  • talquetamab  
  • elranatamab
  • teclistamab  
  • SAR445514
  • CC-92480 

CAR T-cell therapy

CAR T-cell therapy (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy) is a very new type of treatment.

A specialist collects and makes a small change to your T cells Open a glossary item. After a few weeks, you have a drip containing these cells back into your bloodstream. The CAR T-cells then recognise and attack the cancer cells. 

It is available as a possible treatment for some blood cancers. People with myeloma might have it as part of a clinical trial.

For myeloma, researchers are looking at CAR-T cell therapy for people with:

  • myeloma that has come back (relapsed)
  • newly diagnosed myeloma who are not well enough to have a stem cell transplant

Stem cell transplant

Many people with myeloma have a stem cell transplant. A stem cell transplant allows you to have high doses of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy kills the myeloma cells. But it also damages the normal bone marrow cells.

After the chemotherapy, you have new stem cells Open a glossary item into your bloodstream through a drip. The cells find their way back to your bone marrow. Your body then starts making blood cells again and your bone marrow slowly recovers. 

Your doctor might suggest a second stem cell transplant if your myeloma comes back (relapses). You usually have a high dose of a chemotherapy drug called melphalan. Researchers are looking at adding another targeted drug called ixazomib. They want to know if combining this drug with melphalan makes the treatment work better.

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