Can multiple myeloma help us determine what makes a cancer lethal?


Principal Investigator:

Dr Surinder Sahota (University of Southampton)


Dr Madhav Dhodapkar (Yale Cancer Center)
Dr Oscar Yanes (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)
Prof. Claire Edwards (University of Oxford)
Dr Jose Ignacio Martín-Subero (IDIBAPS)
Dr Dirk Hose (Heidelberg University)


Patient Representative:

Alan Chant



Transformation of a benign blood cancer described as asymptomatic gammopathy (ASG) to fatal multiple myeloma (MM) provides a unique paradigm to understand onset of malignant disease. The challenge is knowing if and when this switch will occur, and how to test for it in asymptomatic patients.

Bringing together world-leading experts in immunogenetics, genetics, blood and bone cancer and biochemists, UK-based researcher Dr Surinder Sahota proposes using the transition from ASG to MM as a unique model in which to interrogate the evolution of fatal disease. His team will look at a wide-ranging spectrum of tumour and microenvironment characteristics, at the molecular and cellular global levels, to establish what exactly tips the balance towards malignant disease.

Identifying this trigger would be enormously beneficial for the 80,000 people worldwide who die from myeloma each year, but may also identify transition traits that other cancers may go through to become lethal.

Our consortium is absolutely delighted at being shortlisted under the Cancer Research UK Grand Challenge call. Our response to the challenge of ‘distinguishing between lethal cancers that need treating and non-lethal cancers that don’t’ has only been made feasible by harnessing the available expertise worldwide. 

Dr Surinder Sahota, University of Southampton

Understanding the evolution of fatal disease is one of the greatest challenges of our time. This application is taking the type of wide ranging approach necessary to tackle this challenge head on.

Dr Brian Druker, Director of OHSU

This proposal, trying to find 'the switch point', could lead to thousands of lives being saved!

Margaret Grayson, Grand Challenge Patient Advisory Panel

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