Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Antibody Therapy Reduces Cancer Stem Cells in Multiple Myeloma

A team of researchers lead by Dr. Matsui and Dr. Huff conducted a seven month study that involved individuals with multiple myeloma who were receiving Chemotherapy drugs called lenalidomide and dexamethasone. They tested the effect of the antibody MEDI- 551 on these individuals to measure the influence of cancer drugs on stem cells by counting the stem cells in bone marrow and blood samples from the patients. MEDI-551 is an antibody that targets specific protein CD19 which can be found on the surface of multiple myeloma cancer stem cells (Matsui 2016). After the patients received two full treatments with both cancer drugs, the results showed that the number of stem cells from bone marrow doubled. When the patients were treated with MEDI-551 in the third and fourth months of treatment, the stems cells decreased by half in all of the patients, except for one person. In opposition to the patients receiving MEDI-551, the stem cells increased 10 times in the newly diagnosed patients who did not receive antibody treatment but were still administered both cancer drugs. In a majority of the patients, there was a decrease in multiple myeloma cancer cells after 3 treatments of MEDI-551. However, there was an exception of two patients that experienced an increase in their stem cells even after they received the antibody treatment. The researchers were unable to identify the reason as to why this occurred but they plan to conduct more studies to further examine how the antibody treatment works and to determine what other cancer drugs it is compatible with. 

The results from the two methods used in this study were almost identical so the researchers determined that in future studies they would just use the blood sampling method because it is easier to retrieve than bone marrow. Although it will be years from now, I think that the findings from this study in conjunction with findings from future studies can lead to new cancer treatments that have less  damaging side effects and can hopefully replace the two main Chemotherapy drugs lenalidomide and dexamethasone. In these future studies, I would like to see if the antibody treatment is applicable and effective to multiple myeloma cancer patients of all ages, especially for the elderly. Additionally, I think that researchers next mission should be to determine if there is a specific stage of multiple myeloma where the antibody treatment would be most effective. 

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