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New Combination Therapy Promises Desired Results For Multiple Myeloma

Update Date: May 02, 2014 11:04 AM EDT

Every year more than 25,000 Americans are diagnosed with multiple myeloma - a form of blood cancer that often develops resistance to therapies. However researchers have reportedly developed a new combination therapy that is reporting promising results from laboratory experiments. 

According to previous researches, several drugs are effective against multiple myeloma. However multiple myeloma cells are often able to survive by increasing the production of a protein known as Mcl-1. Mcl-1 regulates a number of processes that promote cell survival and has been implicated in resistance to anti-myeloma drugs that were initially effective, according to press release. 

However, in the new research, researchers demonstrated that a novel drug combination both reduced Mcl-1 expression and disrupted its interactions with other proteins to effectively kill multiple myeloma cells. The drug combination involves a type of drug called Chk1 inhibitor and another called MEK inhibitor. 

"This research builds on our previous studies that showed exposing multiple myeloma and leukemia cells to Chk1 inhibitors activated a protective response through the Ras/MEK/ERK signaling pathway," said Xin-Yan Pei, M.D., Ph.D., and instructor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the VCU School of Medicine, in the press release. "By combining a Chk1 inhibitor with a MEK inhibitor, we have developed one of only a limited number of strategies shown to circumvent therapeutic resistance caused by high expressions of Mcl-1."

"Not only was the combination therapy effective against multiple myeloma cells, it notably did not harm normal bone marrow cells, raising the possibility of therapeutic selectivity," added Steven Grant, the study's lead investigator and Shirley Carter Olsson and Sture Gordon Olsson Chair in Cancer Research, associate director for translational research and program co-leader of Developmental Therapeutics at VCU Massey Cancer Center, in the press release. 

"We are hopeful that this research will lead to better therapies for multiple myeloma, and help make current therapies more effective by overcoming resistance caused by Mcl-1."

The findings of the research has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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