Potential Cure for Multiple Myeloma Discovered

MCL-1 inhibitor drug class could potentially cure the bone marrow cancer.

In a recent study, researchers found that a new class of cancer drugs could potentially treat the currently incurable bone marrow cancer, multiple myeloma.

Researchers discovered that a vast majority of myelomas need MCL-1 to stay alive and grow, according to a study published in Blood. Current treatments cannot cure the disease and only stop the progression of it, leaving many patients without options.

The researchers analyzed different “survival proteins” the keep the cancer cells alive and letting the disease progress, according to the study. Researchers explored BCL-2 proteins, since the survival of many other cancers depends on the family of proteins.

“In the past decade there has been considerable interest in the using anti-cancer agents called 'BH3-mimetics' to kill cancer cells by blocking the BCL-2 family proteins. Recent clinical trials have demonstrated that a BH3-mimetic that switches off the protein BCL-2 is an effective treatment for certain forms of leukemia,” said David Huang, MBBS, PhD. “Our latest research has focused on which BH3-mimetics would be the most effective in treating multiple myeloma, a cancer for which new treatments are urgently needed.”

They discovered that a majority of myeloma cells died when MCL-1 was turned off, according to the study.

“In contrast, only around one-quarter were susceptible to inhibiting BCL-2. This finding is in keeping with earlier research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute that pinpointed MCL-1 as the likely protein that keeps myeloma cells alive,” said researcher Jianan Gong, PhD. “Our research shows that switching off MCL-1 has the potential to be effective new treatment approach for the majority of patients with myeloma.”

Since MCL-1 inhibitors are in early development, a promising new treatment for this cancer could advance quickly.

“As yet, these inhibitors are still in pre-clinical development,” researcher Andrew Roberts, PhD. “Our results suggest that, once necessary laboratory testing for safety is completed, clinical trials of their effectiveness in treating patients with multiple myeloma that is no longer responding to current therapies would be well justified.”