Appointment of Joan Bladé, Group leader
Clinical observation, scientific curiosity and careful work are essential elements for discovering the causes of disease and how to resolve them

Current research

Problem

Multiple myeloma (MM) accounts for 15% of malignant disease. It consists of the proliferation in the bone marrow of plasma cells that produce an abnormal protein. MM manifests with bone involvement, abnormal kidney function, anaemia, increased calcium levels, infections and tumours of the plasma cells (extramedullary disease).

Although the mean survival rate for patients has increased from 3 to 6 years, only 3% of cases are cured. Preventing the disease and improving treatment results are therefore the healthcare problems to be solved.

Approach

The group studies mechanisms of progression in people with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance and in patients with MM who respond to treatment. It studies the efficacy of new models (phase-I and phase-II clinical trials) and of drug combinations (phase-III trials) to increase survival and the proportion of patients cured.

It also participates as the principal national investigator in clinical trials by the Spanish Myeloma Group, in trials by the pharmaceutical industry, and it will shortly begin a project with a phase-I clinical trial with anti-BCMA CAR-T-cell therapy (first-in-human).

Impact

The work carried out to date has enabled the group to develop international criteria for responding to MM (Bladé BJH 1998), describe evolving smouldering MM, provide a response to extramedullary involvement with new drugs, and obtain approval from the EMEA for pre-transplant induction treatment with VTD.

The group leader is among the top 1% of most cited researchers in the world, according to the Thompson&Reuters ranking agency.