A study is recruiting participants to examine the molecular changes that occur when precursor conditions develop into full-blown multiple myeloma, information that can then be used to design therapies to halt disease progression.
The PROMISE study is open to adults living in the U.S., ages 45 to 75 years, who are African-American and/or have a first-degree relative — a parent, sibling, or child — with multiple myeloma or one of its precursor conditions: monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), smoldering multiple myeloma, or Waldenström macroglobulinemia.
“Our hope is that by screening and identifying the precursor conditions early, we can understand the molecular signs of progression to myeloma, and develop therapies that will replace ‘watch and wait’ and make myeloma a preventable disease,” Irene Ghobrial, MD, the study’s principal investigator and co-director of the Center for Prevention of Progression of Blood Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said in a press release.
Nearly all patients with multiple myeloma first develop one of its precursor conditions. People with these conditions do not have any symptoms, and they are told to watch and wait to see if they develop multiple myeloma.
Currently, there are no treatments that prevent the progression of myeloma precursor conditions. To overcome this, researchers need to understand what molecular changes occur when a precursor condition turns into multiple myeloma and identify potential targets for treatment.
Therefore, researchers are hoping to recruit 50,000 volunteers at risk of these conditions and follow their changes over time. Of these volunteers, they believe that 3,000 will likely already show signs of a precursor condition to multiple myeloma.
Studies have shown that African-Americans are three times more likely to develop these precursor conditions than white Americans. They also develop the conditions at an earlier age.
Because some risk factors might be inherited, people with a family history of myeloma precursor conditions are also more likely to develop these disorders.
Participants in PROMISE will complete an online health questionnaire and provide an initial blood sample for genetic testing, which will be regularly repeated every three to six months.
Those whose blood samples test positive for a myeloma precursor condition will be followed by a hematologist (blood doctor) and/or an oncologist. These patients may be eligible for clinical trials investigating new therapies that prevent disease progression.
Ultimately, “these studies will not only lead to a better understanding of the molecular markers that prevent disease progression, but will also provide a road-map of therapeutic options that will make multiple myeloma a preventable or possibly curable disease,” the researchers wrote on the study’s webpage.