Predicting resistance in multiple myeloma and boosting immunotherapy
Dr Pasero and his collaborator Dr Moreaux are studying how to make immunotherapies more effective for patients with multiple myeloma. They also hope to be able to predict which patients resist treatment.
Hope for the future
Immunotherapy is a relatively new type of cancer treatment that works by harnessing the power of our own immune system to fight off cancer. Some new immunotherapies have shown promise in treating multiple myeloma, an incurable type of blood cancer, however only a small subset of patients respond.
Dr Pasero and his team aim to understand why some patients respond to treatment and others do not. They have discovered some specific changes to how DNA is copied and used in cells that is linked to the immune response. The team will now test their hypothesis and see if they can use this knowledge to predict which patients will respond, and find a way to help the immune system attack multiple myeloma cells better with the hope of immunotherapy.
Meet the scientist
Dr Pesero found himself drawn naturally to biology as he was fascinated by how living organisms worked, from the smallest cells to the most complex ecosystems. In addition to science, he is passionate about travel and photography, hobbies that he says have many similarities to research – all three involve a quest for knowledge and understanding the world around us.
Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that grows in the bone marrow, where new blood cells are formed. It is a very difficult to treat cancer, and is currently incurable, however the medical revolution of immunotherapy is offering new hope to patients.
Dr Pasero and his team discovered that, if there is a conflict between the machinery that copies our DNA (replication) and the machinery that expresses genes (i.e. reads off instructions, called transcription), small fragments of DNA are released. Those fragments cause an inflammatory response that attracts immune cells, which could aid the effect of immunotherapy.
The researchers believe they could use these DNA fragments as a biological marker (biomarker) to predict which patients will resist treatment with immunotherapy. They also want to test if increasing the number of conflicts between that cellular machinery, and causing more inflammation, could make patients more sensitive to immunotherapy.
The support of Worldwide Cancer Research helps to fuel scientific discoveries that can ultimately lead to new treatments and cures for cancer. This funding will have a major impact on my lab in allowing us to initiate a very promising research project aiming at improving the management of patients with multiple myeloma by providing more patients with access to immunotherapy.Dr Philippe Pasero
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