MY MENTOR & I PERSPECTIVE
Multiple myeloma and fatty acid metabolism
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a progressive and fatal cancer, characterized by clonal expansion of malignant monoclonal plasma cells within the bone marrow (BM)1, resulting in BM infiltration and destructive bone lesions2. While MM is considered a rare disease, it is the second most prevalent hematological cancer, with almost 30,770 new cases (53% male & 47% female) diagnosed and 12,770 deaths from myeloma estimated to occur in the United States in 2018 alone3. Despite therapeutic advancements in MM treatment, MM remains an incurable disease in a vast majority of cases. While patients respond very well to initial chemotherapeutic treatments, almost all patients relapse and develop a drug resistant disease, making any further treatment ineffective4.In this piece, we discuss what is known about myeloma growth in the bone marrow niche, and explore the theory that drug resistance may occur through changes in cell metabolism and interactions with neighboring bone marrow adipocytes (BMAs).
Assistant Professor Michaela Reagan is head of the MMCRI Reagan Laboratory, which focuses on myeloma and diseases of the bone and bone marrow. Her research examines how the bone marrow niche supports myeloma colonization, proliferation, and drug resistance. To do this, she has focused her research on the cells that make up the stroma of the bone marrow, such as the bone marrow adipocyte, which she has found play an important role in bidirectional signaling with myeloma cells. Her current research goal is to help the scientific community better understand the biology of the bone marrow adipocyte and its interactions with myeloma cells, with the overall aim of creating better therapies for myeloma patients and patients with other bone diseases.
Dr Majdi Masarwi is a post-doctoral fellow in the Reagan Laboratory at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI). His research project aims to understand the role of fatty acids and lipid metabolism in promoting multiple myeloma cells growth and how bone marrow adipocytes promote to tumor progression and drug resistance.