01.09.2016 Long Term…

Long Term Survival in Multiple Myeloma

Myeloma cells (violet) – the bone-damaging agents in the bone marrow. Photo: Heidelberg University Hospital

September 2016

The Heidelberg Myeloma Center is the third largest therapy center in the world. The International Myeloma Foundation supports two Heidelberg-led projects for bone marrow cancer with € 1.6 million.

The Myeloma Center at Heidelberg University Hospital and the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) is the national leader and worldwide the third largest therapy center of its kind. Here, more than 1,800 patients per year from all over Germany and abroad are assessed and predominantly treated in studies. Patients in all phases of disease, from asymptomatic to recurrently treated myeloma, are offered clinical studies.

In Germany, each year some 5,600 people contract multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood forming bone marrow. The cancer cells disrupt blood cell formation, weaken the bone substance, and can also severely damage other organs indirectly. Prognosis and quality of life for myeloma patients have been significantly improved by contributions of the Heidelberg myeloma group.

The International Myeloma Foundation promotes two bone marrow cancer research projects under the auspices of Heidelberg University Hospital.

Two new research projects of the Heidelberg Myeloma Center - on long-term survival with multiple myeloma and on hereditary risk factors for currently incurable cancer - will be supported with 1.6 million Euros from the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) in the next three years. As part of the "Black Swan Research Initiative," the IMF particularly supports projects dealing with residual disease after therapy. The residual cancer cells often lead sooner or later to a relapse. The goal is to discover, among other things, which features characterize the therapy-resistant cells, which factors influence early or late recurrence, and which factors prevent it.

Since 2014 Black Swan Initiative promoting imaging and tumor nests in bone marrow

The scientists of the Heidelberg Myeloma Center have been very successful for years in the research of disease mechanisms, diagnosis, and therapy. Already in 2014 they were able to procure funding for another two projects from the Black Swan Initiative. Within the framework of projects funded until 2017, a team led by Professor Dr. Jens Hillengaß is working to refine diagnostic imaging, so that - for example on follow up control visits - renewed activity of cancer cells in the bone marrow would be visible at a very early stage. The researchers are also investigating why certain areas of the bone develop foci within which cancer cell growth appears to be favorable.

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