The IMF is pleased to expand our research grant program to include Senior Grant awards. This year, two grants of $80,000 each were presented to senior investigators Dr. Gregory R. Mundy and Dr. Hakan Mellstedt. The following are abstracts of their projects:
Gregory R. Mundy, MD
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio, Texas
“Preclinical Evaluation of Novel Genetically Engineered Chimeric Peptide for Treatment of Myeloma Bone Disease.”
Myeloma is almost always associated with a crippling form of bone disease. This bone disease is caused by interactions between myeloma cells and the bone marrow micro-environment which, in turn, leads to production of signals by myeloma cells which activate the major normal bone destroying cells, osteoclasts. Laboratory experiments performed in test tubes indicates cell interactions between myeloma cells and myeloma cells which activate osteoclasts. Based on these findings, we plan to test novel experimental therapies which interfere with these cell interactions in mice which mimics almost perfectly the human condition. In these mice, we can determine the efficacy of new treatments which specifically block these interactions on not just the bone destruction associated with myeloma, but also on the myeloma tumor itself. Our early preliminary results suggest that such approaches may be very beneficial and offer an entirely new approach to the treatment of myeloma. Should these experimental techniques prove beneficial in mice, then these therapeutic approaches could be developed as drugs to produce an entirely new form of therapy for patients with myeloma.
Dr. Hakan Mellstedt
Karolinska Institute, Karolinska Hospital Stockholm, Sweden
“Natural Idiotype Specific T-cell Innumity and Development of Idiotype Vaccination Strategy in Early Stage Myeloma.”
The standard treatment policy for early stage myeloma is "wait and see". Toxic regimens should not be used. Myeloma cells express a patient-specific tumor antigen (the idiotype). This antigen might induce a natural immunity. A detailed analysis of the natural immunity in myeloma will be done with the aim to identify important structures on the idiotype and cellular immune dysfunctions characterized. Such results might be of value for development of effective vaccines. Patients at an early stage will be vaccinated with the idiotype together with growth factors of the immune system (GM-CSF/IL-12), which enhance the immune responses. A detailed analysis of induced cell mediated immunity and clinical effects will be performed. The results will form a basis for future enlarged clinical trials aimed at developing a vaccine strategy in early stage myeloma.