Improving outcomes for patients with Multiple Myeloma

Posted 30 Jan 2024
Dr Charlotte Downes is hopeful that research focusing on a specific protein expressed on the surface of bone marrow cancer cells could one day lead to improved outcomes for multiple myeloma patients with poor prognosis.

A recipient of a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant – generously funded by guests, participants and supporters of the Pink Yellow Blue Cabaret and Tour de Cure – Dr Downes’ project will study a protein called Desmoglein-2 (DSG2), working to define its roles in multiple myeloma in the hope of developing novel treatments to inhibit the functions of the protein.

Multiple myeloma is an aggressive and incurable blood cancer caused by the uncontrolled proliferation of plasma cells in the bone marrow.

“Sadly, multiple myeloma remains an invariably fatal disease with an increasing incidence and high treatment costs,” Dr Downes explains.

“Novel therapies are urgently needed to improve the survival and quality of life of patients with multiple myeloma”.

In a collaboration between researchers at Flinders University and the Centre for Cancer Biology, this project builds on initial research by clinical lead Associate Professor Craig Wallington-Gates and scientific lead Professor Claudine Bonder, who recently discovered that people with DSG2 on their myeloma cells are three times more likely to die within six years of their diagnosis. The growing research team now also includes Dr Gilles Best and Dr Barbara McClure.

“We have demonstrated that DSG2 is a clinically useful prognostic biomarker in multiple myeloma,” Dr Downes continues.

“This grant will enable us to build on our existing data to determine the roles of DSG2 in multiple myeloma and test whether inhibiting DSG2 could limit the progression of the disease and significantly improve outcomes for these high-risk patients.” 

Project Title: Defining the roles of Desmoglein-2 and its association with poor outcomes in multiple myeloma

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