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Multiple Myeloma

MM: Multiple Myeloma


Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a malignancy of plasma cells that typically affects multiple sites within the bone marrow. The malignant cells secrete monoclonal antibodies (M proteins) that may thicken the blood and damage the kidneys. The disease is often symptomless for a long time and already advanced at the time of diagnosis.

Common symptoms of advanced MM include bone pain, anemia, frequent infections, and kidney failure. In the past ten years, several novel MM drugs have appeared, which have significantly improved the survival of MM patients. Despite these recent advances, the vast majority of patients eventually relapse, and the disease remains largely incurable. Mainly affecting elderly individuals, the incidence of MM is expected to increase as a result of the aging of our population. MM is the second most common hematologic malignancy in Europe.

Key questions

HARMONY researchers will combine data of thousands of MM patients, with the aim to predict disease course and drug response based on factors such as patient age and fitness, molecular characteristics of the malignant cells (e.g., genetic profile and immunophenotype), and disease characteristics measured with MRI or PET-CT. The ultimate goal is to improve MM treatment by allowing physicians to match patient profiles with the most promising treatment strategy. Examples of key questions that HARMONY will address for MM are:

Which factors predict therapy resistance? Why do some patients die despite of a successful initial treatment?

What is the optimal combination of drugs for various subgroups of patients? Do less intensive treatments suffice for certain subgroups? Which subgroups benefit most from expensive drugs?

Which factors predict if and how MM progresses from a pre-malignant condition to malignant metastatic disease?

What can MM tell us about the existence of putative cancer stem cells?

MM Features

HARMONY Leadership: MM