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Developing new treatments for multiple myeloma (MM)

  • Researcher: Dr Hans van der Vliet
  • Institution: VU University Medical Center, Netherlands
  • Award Amount: £190,414 for 3 years from January 2014
  • Cancer Type: Myeloma
Developing new treatments for multiple myeloma (MM)
Dr. Hans van der Vliet is using his Worldwide Cancer Research grant to develop a new treatment for multiple myeloma (MM). MM develops from cells in the bone marrow called plasma cells. Normally, new plasma cells are produced to replace old, worn-out cells in an orderly, controlled way. However, in myeloma, the process gets out of control and large numbers of abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) are produced. These fill up the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets which causes many problems for the patient.

Dr van der Vliet is developing a new biological treatment against MM using parts of antibodies. These special antibodies act upon a protein called CD1d which is found at much higher levels on MM and triggering of CD1d has already been shown to kill MM cells in lab based tests. Another way to kill MM cells is by activating immune system cells designed to kill foreign bodies, with the catchy name gamma-delta T cells. Dr van der Vliet plans to combine both of these approaches to create an even more potent treatment which will first be tested in the lab and then in mice as no other methods can be used.

Dr Hans van der Vliet hopes that if successful, his new treatment could enter clinical trials in patients. He believes it could not only benefit patients with MM but potentially also people with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), lymphomas, certain gliomas, breast, lung, prostate and bowel cancers which all have high levels of CD1d.
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