What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a malignancy affecting approximately 350 new patients in Norway each year. It is classified as a hematological malignancy, but the cancer cells are usually found within the bone marrow.

The presence of myeloma cells in the bone marrow causes bone disease with bone degradation and severe osteoporosis. During the last years substantial progress has been made, both in the treatment directed towards the malignant cells and in management of the bone disease of multiple myeloma.

Research at the center

In the newly created SKGJ Multiple Myeloma Cancer Centre the aim is to identify biological subgroups of the disease, thereby facilitating more individual treatments of patients.

Compared to a solid tumor, multiple myeloma is relatively unique because bone marrow aspirates taken for diagnostic purposes not only contain the malignant cells but also bone marrow stromal cells and plasma surrounding the malignant cells. The soluble components of the bone marrow aspirates can thus relatively easily be isolated and characterized. One aim of the center is to collect myeloma cells and bone marrow aspirates from the majority of patients in Norway. This should result in sufficient number of patient samples facilitating meaningful subgrouping of patients.

A second aim is to study the interaction between myeloma cells and stromal cells with respect to myeloma cell survival, drug sensitivity and the bone disease of multiple myeloma, and with special emphasize on inflammatory mechanisms as driving forces in the development of multiple myeloma.

Anders Sundan. Photo: Geir Mogen/NTNU