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Making sure bone marrow cancer cells have nowhere to hide

  • Researcher: Dr Tuna Mutis
  • Institution: University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Award Amount: £201,839 for 3 years from June 2014
  • Cancer Type: Myeloma
Making sure bone marrow cancer cells have nowhere to hide
Working in the Netherlands, Dr Tuna Mutis has recently made progress in understanding why multiple myeloma cells can sometimes become resistant to immune therapy. Using a new grant from Worldwide Cancer Research, he is now investigating in mice if combining immune therapy with agents that block these resistance mechanisms might improve treatment success. Immune therapy is one of the most promising treatments for multiple myeloma. ‘Killer’ T cells from a healthy bone marrow donor are used to attack the myeloma cells in the patient’s bone marrow. But sometimes the cancer cells can become resistant and escape from the clutches of the killer cells. In earlier lab studies Dr Mutis has found that the cancer cells can use their connections with surrounding cells in the bone marrow to protect themselves from killer T cells. He has also shown that this mechanism can be disrupted by a small molecule, called YM155. With his new grant he will build on these exciting findings by studying and modulating these mechanisms in greater depth in a new mouse model of the disease. If successful, this research could ultimately lead to vastly improved treatments for patients with multiple myeloma.
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