TUESDAY, Feb. 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A discovery by U.S. researchers may help lead to new ways to treat multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of immune cells called plasma cells found in the blood and in bone marrow.
The study, in the February issue of Cancer Cell, identified a frequent and common abnormal cellular event that occurs in about half of all cases of multiple myeloma. This finding provides scientists with a potential treatment target.
In this U.S. National Cancer Institute-led study, scientists focused on a cancer-causing gene called c-maf. They found c-maf was present in about half of all myeloma cases but was absent from normal plasma cells.
The study also found c-maf increases production of factors that directly promote tumor cell growth and the factors that promote tumor cell growth indirectly by increasing adhesion of pathological tumor cells to other types of cells within the bone marrow.
The scientists say they also determined that inhibiting c-maf function in myeloma cells blocked tumor formation in mice.
"Our results indicate that overproduction of c-maf is one of the most common abnormal events associated with myeloma. Further, our finding that inhibition of c-maf blocks myeloma proliferation and tumor formation makes c-maf an intriguing and exciting novel target for future therapies," research team leader Dr. Louis M. Staudt, of the National Cancer Institute, says in a prepared statement.
The American Cancer Society has more about multiple myeloma.