Fred Hutch is at the forefront of developing treatments for multiple myeloma. Our researchers pioneered bone marrow transplantation, one of the most significant advances in treating myeloma, lymphoma and other blood cancers. Fred Hutch investigators continue to improve bone marrow and blood stem cell transplantation for myeloma, making these therapies safer and more effective. We also pioneered the mini-transplant, a gentler version of transplantation that reduces a patient’s radiation exposure to a minimal dose, and we are bringing cutting-edge immunotherapy treatments to myeloma patients.
Clinical research is an essential part of the scientific process that leads to new treatments and better care. Clinical trials can also be a way for patients to get early access to new cutting-edge therapies. Our clinical research teams are running clinical studies on various kinds of multiple myeloma.
Diagnostic tests are conducted to determine the cancer's stage. Knowing the stage helps the doctor recommend what kind of treatment is best, and it can help predict a patient's prognosis, which is the chance of recovery. The optimal treatment approach should provide a good balance of efficacy, safety and quality of life.
Relapsed multiple myeloma means the disease has returned. If the first treatment you try doesn't work against your cancer, a doctor might call this primary refractory multiple myeloma. Refractory means your cancer doesn't improve with treatment, or it stops responding to treatment. If a cancer initially improves, but then gets resistant to the treatment and starts growing again, it is relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.
Smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) is a subdivision of multiple myeloma, which is a type of blood cancer. The name “smoldering” means that it typically worsens over time as it progresses, although someone with SMM may have no active symptoms. About half of those diagnosed with the condition, however, will develop multiple myeloma within 5 years.
Our multiple myeloma research begins in the laboratory, where we study the biology of myeloma cells and develop potential new drugs and immunotherapies. It also includes clinical research in which our scientists test new methods for treating and caring for myeloma patients. It spans years and decades as we track survivors’ quality of life after treatment.
Fred Hutch scientists are improving blood stem-cell transplantation to save the lives of more people with multiple myeloma.
We are learning the secrets of immune genetics to find better-matched donors for each patient and developing less toxic transplantation regimens. Our researchers are also developing newer forms of transplantation that can offer a patient a good chance of success even without a fully matched donor.
All of these advances are informed by our research on the fundamental biology of blood-forming cells, the immune system and myeloma itself.
During and after treatment for multiple myeloma, patients can experience numerous side effects that can affect their physical, emotional and social functioning. Fred Hutch scientists are developing supportive care for myeloma patients to protect them from treatment complications and improve their quality of life. They are also studying the long-term and late effects of treatment.
In particular, our scientists are world experts on the complications of blood stem-cell transplantation, including infections and graft-vs.-host disease. Our scientists are learning how these complications occur and developing better methods to prevent and treat them.
Fred Hutch researchers are contributing landmark discoveries about how to engineer immune cells called T cells to target the multiple myeloma. Our scientists are also developing new myeloma drugs based on antibodies, which are disease-targeting immune proteins. We are also leaders in radioimmunotherapy, in which antibodies ferry powerful radioactive isotopes straight to myeloma cells.