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Scientists identify new biomarker for multiple myeloma

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New biomarker for multiple myeloma

A new study led by researchers in Singapore highlights a new biomarker called FAIM that could become a new therapeutic target of multiple myeloma. FAIM ( Fas apoptosis inhibitory molecule ), that identifies patients with multiple myeloma at high risk, is actually a molecule that prevent cell death. Researchers believe that a drug that could inhibit this molecule could be the new treatment for multiple  myeloma. The study results were published in Leukemia.

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Multiple myeloma is a malignant cancer that occurs due to uncontrolled proliferation of plasma cells in the blood. It is a severe and incurable cancer that can have a wide range of signs and symptoms: bleeding, infection, anemia, kidney failure. Other important symptoms that occur are due to spinal cord compression: pain, paresthesia, weakness, paralysis and others. It should be noted that the lumbar spine is one of the most affected areas. Frequent complications of multiple myeloma are fractures and kidney damage, which is a negative prognostic sign.

American Cancer Society estimates that in the U.S., every year there are 14,600 new cases of multiple myeloma and in Singapore 80 people are diagnosed each year with this disease. There were no obvious causes of this cancer yet, but there seems to be some predisposing factors such as age over 50, male gender and obesity.

Although several types of treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, autologous stem cell transplant, immunomodulatory drugs, corticosteroids) are available for patients with multiple mieloma, the prognosis is poor. Survival time varies from several months to several years depending on the stage of the disease. Resistance to treatment is one of the main factors contributing to bad prognosis of multiple myeloma.

Now researchers in Singapore have made new discoveries about the mechanisms underlying this cancer. They found a molecule ( FAIM) that is involved in preventing cell death. Based on this discovery, they were able to demonstrate that by inhibiting expression of FAIM, multiple myeloma can be eradicated. They also showed that the protein level is high in patients with multiple myeloma compared to healthy individuals. Furthermore, it was also found that the presence of this molecule in the blood of patients with multiple myeloma correlates with a poor prognosis.

Prof Lam Kong Peng, who conducted the research, said that this study joins other findings that demonstrate the utility of FAIM in multiple myeloma. He added that the discovery of these biomarkers help identify patients at risk and possible future discovery of new treatments of multiple myeloma.