Possible New Treatment for Multiple Myeloma
Sorafenib induces cancer cell death in laboratory setting (Sept. 5)
According to a September 5 announcement, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, have found that sorafenib (Nexavar, Bayer), a drug used to treat advanced cancer of the kidneys and liver, may also be effective against multiple myeloma. The disease is one of the more common forms of blood cancer and is generally incurable.
Myeloma is found only in adults; it is uncommon before the age of 40, and most patients are more than 60 years old when diagnosed.
Myeloma cells are located mainly in the bone marrow, and since this is also where blood cells are produced, their presence seriously disrupts normal blood production. Malignant cancer cells or tumors can also accumulate outside the bone marrow — hence the name “multiple” myeloma.
A common side effect of multiple myeloma is osteoporosis. Patients develop intense back pain as their vertebrae become compressed and as they experience bone fractures. Other symptoms of the disease include anemia, fatigue, renal failure, and an increased susceptibility to infections.
The new study, published in Cancer Research, was conducted on cell samples from both humans and mice (cell lines). Almost all myeloma patients, seen at Karolinska University Hospital, were previously untreated.
The researchers showed how sorafenib induces cell death in human myeloma cell lines in a laboratory environment by preventing protein-level activity — an effect that also was achieved when the myeloma cells had developed resistance to bortezomib (Velcade, Millennium Pharmaceuticals).The researchers also tested sorafenib in live mice and found that the drug either prevented or delayed the course of the disease.
The research team maintains that their results support the use of sorafenib in combination with other drugs in the treatment of multiple myeloma.
For more information, visit the Karolinska Institute Web site.