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Novel Approaches to Screening for and Treating Multiple Myeloma

January 12, 2022 • 5:14 pm CST
(Vax Before Cancer)

Three studies presented during the 63rd American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition on January 11, 2022, spotlights novel approaches to screening for and treating blood diseases.

As well as an unexpected potential association between a blood abnormality and Alzheimer's disease.

The first study demonstrates how the use of high-sensitivity screening techniques for the early detection of blood abnormalities may identify people at high risk for multiple myeloma earlier – especially Black patients and those with a first-degree relative with the disease – giving them more timely access to treatment.

The second reveals a surprising possible association between a fairly common blood abnormality in older adults and a reduced risk for Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia.

And in the third ­– the most extensive study to date of gene therapy for a blood disorder – investigators report on a novel treatment strategy with the potential to dramatically improve the quality and quantity of life for patients with a severe form of an inherited blood disease.

"Each of these studies is compelling in its own way," said press briefing moderator Joseph Mikhael, M.D., of the Translational Genomics Research Institute.

"The first presents a strong case for screening people at high risk for multiple myeloma."

"This could have important health equity implications because multiple myeloma is twice as common among African Americans as in the general population."

To ensure adequate representation of people of African descent in the study population, Dr. Ghobrial and colleagues also identified and screened Black people who had contributed blood samples to a sizeable biological specimen repository, the Mass General Brigham Biobank in Boston.

The investigators report interim screening findings for 7,622 participants in the current study, including 2,439 Black people.

"Ours is the largest cohort of Black people to be recruited for a myeloma screening study and the first prospective study to actively recruit people at high risk for multiple myeloma, follow them over time to estimate the prevalence of MGUS accurately, and explore outcomes for patients with this precursor condition," said Dr. Ghobrial.