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Multiple Myeloma May Respond to Immune Therapy

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Facts about Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer which involves plasma cells, white blood cells which are from the bone marrow. These plasma cells are responsible for making antibodies called immunoglobulin which can help fight off infections. If the number of plasma cells exceeds normal limits, it may be due to the presence of myeloma cells, a group of abnormal cells that affect plasma cell production. These myeloma cells multiple in large numbers and leads to increased levels of plasma cells and immunoglobulin. This condition results to multiple myeloma.

The risk factors for multiple myeloma include older age, genetic inheritance, obesity, diet, HIV/AIDS, certain occupations (agriculture, the leather industries, cosmetology, and petroleum workers), chemical exposure, radiation exposure, autoimmune diseases, and a history of monoclonal gammopathy (MGUS).

Multiple myeloma, as a type of blood cancer, affects many organs of the body such as the immune system, the bones, the kidneys and red blood cells. It is an uncommon cancer which is prevalent among whites. Its symptoms vary depending on the stage of the cancer and the patient's overall health. During the early stages of the disease, a person may feel little symptoms. The patient may first be suspected to have multiple myeloma through blood tests.

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Abnormal proteins are usually detected in the blood and urine; these are called monoclonal proteins or M proteins. If these proteins are detected during routine examinations they may signify multiple myeloma or other conditions. Bone pain may be felt especially on areas such as the skull, the back, the ribs and the pelvis. High calcium levels may be detected in the blood, a condition known as hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia occurs when calcium in the affected bones are dissolved into blood, creating symptoms such as unexplained thirst, frequent urination, confusion, constipation, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets may decrease in quantity, creating symptoms such as fatigue, unexplained tiredness, lethargy, breathlessness, repeated infections, easily bruised skin, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and unusual bleeding in other sites of the body.

Kidney damage may also occur in multiple myeloma. This may be due to production of paraproteins such as moloclonal proteins or M proteins by cancerous plasma cells. This condition may lead to signs and symptoms such as excessive thirst, excessive urination, decreased urine output, swollen ankles, breathlessness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. The spine may also be damaged and may cause nerve compression of the spinal column, creating symptoms such as numbness and tingling of the arms and legs, weakness in the arms and legs, urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence, problems in urination and problems in defecation.

Symptoms which may warrant physician consult or hospital admission include persistent tiredness, persistent bone pain, unexpected weight loss, excessive urination, excessive thirst, numbness of the legs, tingling of the legs and weakness of the legs.

Immune Therapy in Multiple Myeloma

Recent studies by researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center — Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC — James) have shown that genetically modified immune cells may effectively treat multiple myeloma. The findings were published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. In this study, the researchers were able to modify T lymphocytes to target CS1, and that these cells efficiently destroy human multiple myeloma cells. This further leads to effective treatment of multiple myeloma. The researchers were also able to show through animal models that modified T cells greatly reduced the tumor burden and prolonged overall survival.

You can read more about multiple myeloma browsing our other articles on this site.

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