Potential Therapeutic Target For Multiple Myeloma Identified
Researchers have identified a molecule that may be a potential biomarker for multiple myeloma.
AsianScientist (Jan. 9, 2012) – Scientists at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) Singapore have identified a molecule that may be a potential biomarker for multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells – a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies. In multiple myeloma, abnormal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, where they interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Approximately 80 new cases of multiple myeloma are diagnosed every year in Singapore.
Although factors such as old age, obesity, and being male may predispose one to the cancer, there is currently no clear causative factors for individuals who develop multiple myeloma. Currently available treatments, such as chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation, have proven inefficient in treating patients with multiple myeloma.
In the study published in the journal Leukemia, the researchers describe a protein that typically prevents cell death, called the Fas apoptosis inhibitory molecule (FAIM).
In multiple myeloma, the researchers discovered that FAIM is first upregulated by insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in plasma cells; next, FAIM activates alpha serine/threonine-protein kinase (AKT), an important enzyme required for cancer cell proliferation.
The team also investigated the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) expression of FAIM in normal and malignant plasma cell samples from 15 healthy individuals and 147 patients. FAIM expression levels were found to be significantly increased in multiple myeloma patients compared with normal individuals.
More importantly, when compared with asymptomatic but malignant conditions such as smoldering multiple myeloma, the expression level of FAIM was again found to be higher for multiple myeloma, which highlights its potential as a biomarker for early stage multiple myeloma.
“We found that this protein was present at higher levels in the plasma cells of these patients as compared to normal individuals, and that higher levels of FAIM correlated to poorer survival outcomes of patients. This is an important breakthrough as it not only identifies FAIM as a useful biomarker of multiple myeloma patients, but also as a good target that drugs can be developed for, in order to get rid of the cancer cells,” said Prof. Lam Kong-Peng who led the study.
Source: A*STAR; Photo: Patrick Hoesly/Flickr/CC.
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