Appointment of Carlos Fernández De Larrea, Group leader
The key to the long-term remission of multiple myeloma is enhancing the immune system which is responsible for the control of tumour cells in the bone marrow

Current research

Problem

Multiple myeloma is a disease of the plasma cells, responsible for generating antibodies. The malignant proliferation of these cells, especially in the bone marrow, causes fractures, anaemia, renal insufficiency and elevation of calcium.

Therapies for treating multiple myeloma include chemotherapy, bone marrow autologous transplant, proteasome inhibitors, immunomodulatory agents, and monoclonal antibodies. Despite the wide range of therapies that exist to treat it, multiple myeloma is still an incurable pathology.

Approach

The group’s line of work consists of identifying innovative treatment options related to the patient's immune system and the tumour’s micro-environment. It studies, for example, molecules related to the control and evasion of myeloma after treatment in order to develop new therapeutic strategies.

In this direction, generating modified cells in the laboratory, called CAR T cells, enables a patient’s lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) to be targeted in a specific way so that they only attack malignant plasma cells.

Impact

The goal is the long-term remission of multiple myeloma; even the possibility that some patients may be cured thanks to the increased effect of the immune cells on the  malignant cells.

An alternative is to return to the initial state of multiple myeloma, in which the balance between malignant plasma cells and other cells in the bone marrow allow the patient to live symptom-free and without suffering the consequences of the disease for many years.