Clinicians and Scientists Gather to Advance Multiple Myeloma Expertise

Monday, 23 January 2012

Ireland has one of the highest incidences in the world of a blood cancer known as multiple myeloma, a gathering of clinicians and scientists heard last week. The event was a workshop hosted by NUI Galway, on behalf of the Myeloma Ireland Consortium (MIC), with the support of Science Foundation Ireland.

MIC was established within the past year with the aim of increasing collaboration between ‘like-minded’ researchers from different academic institutions and hospitals in a co-ordinated approach to maximise research potential and improve patient outcomes in multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that arises from plasma cells, the white blood cells that produce antibodies. In effect, the cancer causes overproduction of antibody producing plasma cells leading to problems such as anaemia, bone damage, kidney failure and elevated calcium levels.

The primary purpose of the meeting, which took place in Maynooth, was to highlight current research activities and encourage co-operation between the various research groups in Ireland working in the multiple myeloma field. In addition to updates from research groups from NUI Galway, Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, and the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, delegates also heard from international experts.

Dr Aldo Roccaro from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston spoke about new insights into the interaction of myeloma cells with the bone marrow microenvironment, including the role of exosomes. Dr Dirk Hose from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, covered the use of gene expression profiling for risk stratification and target assessment in clinical practice.

Professor Frank Giles, who leads the HRB Clinical Research Facility in Galway and is Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin discussed Irish early-phase studies in myeloma in the context of the National Clinical Research Framework. An update on current multiple myeloma trials being conducted by the all-Ireland Cooperative Clinical Oncology Research Group (ICORG) was given by Dr Peter O’Gorman, Chair of the ICORG Haematology study group.

Professor Micheal O’Dwyer, Professor of Haematology at NUI Galway and Consultant Haematologist, University Hospital Galway, who convened the event stated: “While treatments have improved over the last decade, and most patients are living longer, multiple myeloma remains an incurable disease. It is vital that scientists across the entire Irish research spectrum work together to find new treatment approaches and improve patient outcomes.”

Throughout the event, there were opportunities to discuss the practicalities of undertaking translational research and potential opportunities for collaboration in Ireland. This workshop was also supported by Janssen and Celgene.

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Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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