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Can Studies of a Single Cell Lead to the Cure for Myeloma?

In the current issue of the journal Science there is a special section called "Single-Cell Biology" (cells go solo). It is now technically feasible to study individual cells in great detail at the molecular, metabolic and functional levels. What is being discovered is that a reading of the "average" from 100, 1,000 or a million cells as has previously been done disguises the great diversity at the individual cell level. 

This raises the question: Are there high-risk genetic features in myeloma cells? 

The answer turns out to be yes and no! Some do and some don't have really abnormal genetic profiles. Discovering the ones that do can guide us to the next phase of therapy for myeloma patients. 

This is significant for the International Myeloma Foundation's signature project, the Black Swan Research Initiative, which is directed towards finding a cure for myeloma. If a myeloma patient's treatment produces an excellent result, with achievement of Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) Zero (no detectable myeloma), follow-up monitoring is required. Although it is hoped and assumed that many patients will have sustained MRD-Zero and may be cured, some will not be cured with the first attempt. These patients will start to have single cells of myeloma detectable by flow cytometry on MRD testing. 

Studies of these single residual myeloma cells will provide the clues needed to eradicate the cells with new alternate and/or higher dose therapy. Checking cells one by one, as BSRI team members Dr. Alberto Orfao and Dr. Ola Landgren are now able to do, will illustrate the diversity and need most likely for a combination approach  to eradicate all these residual myeloma cells. This new technology for single-cell analyses can be key in coming up with the answers to achieving cure! And it is just another piece of the puzzle that is the BSRI, a multifaceted approach to cure myeloma. 

To learn more, stay tuned as we update with blogs, teleconferences, and reports in 2014. 

Dr. Durie sincerely appreciates and reads all comments left here. However, he cannot answer specific medical questions and encourages readers to contact the trained IMF Hotline staff instead. Questions are answered with input from Dr. Durie and/or other scientific advisors and IMWG members as appropriate. To contact the IMF Hotline, call  800-452-CURE, toll-free in the US and Canada, or send an email to hotline@myeloma.org. Hotline hours are 9 am to 4 pm PST. Thank you.


I've been reading a lot of conflicting information about asparagus. Should people with myeloma avoid eating asparagus the same as people with certain kinds of leukemia?

This is good news for people suffering from Myeloma, More research is needed

I was diagnosed in March of 1993 with stage III-b Multiple Myeloma, type lambda, with 90% plasma cells. I achieved a three-year remission through intermittent high-dose dexamethasone until early 1996, when a small amount of Bence-Jones protein was detected. I was enrolled in a clinical trial at The Toronto General Hospital entitled ''Intensification of Stem Cell Transplantation,'' with Dr. Keith Stewart as the site PI. My SCT took pace on November 15, 1996. Since that time, I have been monitored first at 3-month intervals, and for the pasvera yers at 6-month intervals, using a protocol developed by Dr. K. Imrie, then on staff at the Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, who was my oncologist.

My latest monitoring series of blood and urine tests showed no detectable markers for myeloma, a result that has been consistent since my transplant.

It has been over 20 years since my diagnosis in a late stage of MM, and over 17 years since my SCT. I do not think that this kind of result is being recorded as I have, over the pat several years, twice contacted the University Health Network in Toronto in order to report my survival to someone who reports to the cancer registry. I was told I should volunteer with a hospital network to make use of y survival story,l but I have moved from the area and am not necessarily interested in a volunteer position.

My question for Dr. Durie is this: Is there a role for a long-term survivor who is possibly cured of Multiple Myeloma in the Black Swan Research Initiative? I have previously been a patient representative on the Research Advisory Committee of Cancer Care Ontario (CCO), as well as on the Terry Fox New Initiatives grants review panel for the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC). I am at least able to provide my story and my statistics to add to the life history of Multiple Myeloma, which I think might modify the stats and provide a more reality-based element of hope for those newly diagnosed.

This story further emphasis the need for 'Single cell research' in understanding cancer cell behavior for a particular patient with myeloma which is still considered to be an incurable disease despite tremendous achievements in its management in recent years.

Does anybody have any data on a Dr. Rubio and the Dr. Rubio Cancer Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico?

I have visited his clinic for a day in October 2013, had an interview with him while there and was somewhat impressed by his research and his treatment. He has been doing this for almost 25 years, with improvements in his "vaccines" over the years.
His " vaccines" are individually blended for the patient depending upon blood test results. They presumably "crack" the protein wall protecting the cancer cell from invasion by white blood cells, who just can't penetrate the protein shell.

Any rational answers would be appreciated, as I am seriously considering signing up for a 4 week stay at his clinic in early 2014.

I currently am diagnosed with Smoldering Myeloma, after being downgraded from Stage 1 initially. It's been 4 years since my diagnosis, and 3 years since my downgrade to Smoldering. I've began taking a product called Poly MVA and various supplements, from D3 , Curcumin 95,COQ10, probiotics, No table sugar , minimize red meat, etc. No treatment from my doctor, except for "watchful waiting", which I interpret as " you'll get worse, so we'll watch and hit you with drugs when you're worse". My personality is opposite that .

I began taking Revlimid last month and have just completed my first 21 days. I'm doing this based upon the recent NEMJ publication in July 2013, which published the results of a Spanish clinical trial for "high" risk Smoldering patients. My Oncologist says The decision is mine to start. The results looks statistically significant to me, so we started.

Dr. Rubio says the Revlimid should help his "vaccines" get rid of the cancer, though he doesn't normally include Revlimid in treatment.

Please advise

Thank you and Merry Christmas,

Jim Swelgin

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