New key genes in the evolution of multiple myeloma discovered

  • Researchers at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra and CIMA Universidad de Navarra are leading an international study which has revealed a novel set of genes specific to multiple myeloma which condition its manifestation and development
  • The research also shows that the expression of these genes allows for better classification of patients with this disease in terms of survival
  • The finding, published in Leukemia, will open the doors to the development of new therapeutic RNA-based strategies for multiple myeloma, the second most common cancer of the blood

Pamplona (Spain), February 22, 2021. Researchers at Clinica and CIMA of the Universidad de Navarra are leading an international study which has revealed a new set of genes specific to multiple myeloma which condition its manifestation and development. This discovery has identified 40,511 new non-coding genes (up to now called junk genes) involved in the evolution of this cancer of the blood.

The study also shows that the expression of the genes, together with the genetic alterations connected with a negative prognosis in patients with multiple myeloma, allows for better classification of the survival results.

The results of this work have been published in Leukemia, one of the most prestigious international scientific journals in the field of hematology, and opens the door to new RNA-based therapeutic strategies for multiple myeloma, the second most frequent hematologic cancer.

The group led by Dr. Iñaki Martín-Subero from the Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS) in Barcelona, and the group led by Dr. Ari Melnick, from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, among other institutions, have participated in the research.

The RNA molecule which ‘translates’ multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma is an incurable disease originating in the bone marrow. Its biological heterogeneity makes its clinical management challenging. Recent oncological research has focused on some molecules involved in the regulation of the genome and gene expression. Specifically, this research has deciphered a type of specific long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), which has allowed the researchers to identify new genes with a key role in the origin and workings of the cancer cells.

“The initial study for detection and definition of the complete lncRNAs transcriptome was carried out in samples from 38 multiple myeloma patients proving their functionality in the disease. We have also shown its potential as a biomarker by analyzing the most complete series of patients with multiple myeloma to date, the so-called CoMMPass study”, said Dr. Xabier Agirre, a researcher in the Hemato-Oncology Area at CIMA.

Clinically, “we have shown that the expression of lncRNAs, together with the negative-prognosis genetic alterations in patients with multiple myeloma, offers much better sub-stratification of patients regarding survival”, affirmed Dr. Felipe Prósper, co-director of the Hemato-Oncology Program at CIMA and the Hematology Service of the Clinica Universidad de Navarra.

As stated by the researchers, this advance shows that there are many other key genes for the development of this disease, which may be interesting therapeutic targets to open the doors to novel therapies based on the specific RNAs of multiple myeloma.

This research has been carried out within the framework of the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Navarra (IdiSNA) and the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en la Red de Cáncer (CIBERONC). It has had the support of Iberdrola, through the Asociación Española contra el Cáncer (AECC) and its Accelerator Awards with the joint participation of Cancer Research UK and the Fondazione AIRC per la Ricerca sul Cancro (AIRC). It is also funded by: the European Union within the Blue Print Epigenome project, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, the Ramón Areces Foundation, the Navarrese Government and other public and private institutions.

The results of this work are part of the doctoral thesis of Arantxa Carrasco-León, a CIMA researcher into Hemato-Oncology.

Caption: (from right to left): Felipe Prósper and Xabi Agirre together with the main authors of the article Arantxa Carrasco-León and Teresa Ezponda and other researchers of the Hemato-Onoclogy Program at CIMA.

Bibliography:

Leukemia (2021). Characterization of complete lncRNAs transcriptome reveals the functional and clinical impact of lncRNAs in multiple myeloma. Carrasco-Leon, A., Ezponda, T., Meydan, C. et al. DOI: 10.1038/s41375-021-01147-y (Read more)

New key genes in the evolution of multiple myeloma discovered2021-03-04T09:51:31+00:00

Editor project ends the year enhancing its collaborations and promoting young talent

The 2020 has been a year marked by the pandemic. The global health crisis has slowed down, or even paralysed, the scientific activity of biomedical research centres, especially in Europe.

In this context, the laboratories involved in the Editor project have continued to work on the knowledge of haematological diseases at the rate that the pandemic has allowed, resuming their practically usual research activity in the second half of the year.

In March, a general meeting of the Steering Board took place by videoconference. There they updated the status of the project and progress. In the second half of the year, the researchers practically resumed their scientific activity. Since then, all hubs celebrated a specific meeting for each haematological disease: multiple myeloma (MM) or amyloidosis (AL), follicular lymphoma (FL), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

These scientific meetings, held -also by videoconference- in the last four-month period of the year, were organised to deepen the advancement of research by strengthening collaborations and promoting new relationships between teams from Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. Thus, in addition to sharing the latest advances and presenting the challenges to be faced in the next year, these meetings aimed to reinforce one of the general objectives of the project: to promote young talent.

An opportunity to advance knowledge of hematologic diseases with scientific leaders in the field

The scientific meetings were developed through brief presentations by the members of each disease group, where the leading role fell to junior researchers. Hannah Armes (UK), Martina Sarchi (Italy), Càtia Simões (Spain) or Connor Knight (UK) are some young researchers who have wanted to share their experience and the challenges of participating in the project.

Junior researcher testimonies

Editor project ends the year enhancing its collaborations and promoting young talent2021-01-04T11:07:21+00:00

Discovery of a “new molecular trait” shared by myeloma patients

(Pamplona, Spain, August 20, 2020) — A joint research by groups of the EDITOR Accelerator Award have discovered a molecular trait that is shared by myeloma patients.

Multiple myeloma is a greatly heterogeneous disease, both from biological and clinical perspectives. In spite of this heterogeneity, several groups of the EDITOR accelerator award have discovered a molecular trait that is shared by myeloma patients. The study has been led by the groups of Xabier Agirre and Felipe Prosper from the CIMA of Pamplona and Iñaki Martin-Subero from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, also with the participation of Jesus San Miguel, coordinator of the EDITOR project. The article, recently published in Genome Research, is entitled “Chromatin activation as a unifying principle underlying pathogenic mechanisms in multiple myeloma”. Using a multi-epigenomics approach and integrative computational analyses as well as detailed functional experiments, the authors identified the existence of a core epigenomic landscape underlying MM pathogenesis. This chromatin landscape is mostly characterized by the widespread activation of regulatory elements that remain inactive in normal cells. Such activation, seems to be mediated by the action of specific TF families, affecting genes particularly involved in preventing cell death associated with cellular stress, such as TXN and PRDM5. As chromatin activation seems to be a feature of myeloma patients as a whole, these findings suggests that drugs reverting this epigenetic process may be appropriate as a backbone treatment for this aggressive disease. (Read more)

Discovery of a “new molecular trait” shared by myeloma patients2020-09-08T06:10:05+00:00

New MDS Subtype Proposed Based on Presence of Genetic Mutation. (Article in English, April 29th 2020)

(WASHINGTON, April 29, 2020) — In a special report published today in the journal Blood, an international working group of experts in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) proposes – for the first time – the recognition of a distinct subtype of MDS based on the presence of a nonheritable genetic mutation that causes the disease. The mutation is found in approximately one in every five patients with MDS.

“This study represents an important step forward in the ability to diagnose MDS on the basis of genetic features, and this is paving the way to obtain a diagnosis without the need to analyze bone marrow,” said lead author Luca Malcovati, MD, of the University of Pavia Medical School in Italy. “Patients who carry this genetic variant may benefit from treatment with an approved drug, luspatercept. In addition, other potential new treatments that directly target this genetic mutation are in the early stages of development and may benefit patients in the future.” (Read more)

New MDS Subtype Proposed Based on Presence of Genetic Mutation. (Article in English, April 29th 2020)2020-08-19T13:41:27+00:00

Advanced genomics, design of new animal models and patient sample collection: EDITOR project goals during 2019 (December 22th 2020)

December 2019. EDITOR project, focused on improving early detection and intervention of blood cancers, has completed a year with a positive balance in its forecasts. It started in its kick-off meeting held in January 2019 at Clinica Universidad de Navarra headquarters in Madrid (Spain). During this year the 13 institutions -from Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom- that form part of this international consortium have advanced in the knowledge of monoclonal gammopathies such as multiple myeloma, leukaemia and lymphoma. For that progress, the scientists based the research on the use of the latest techniques in genomic sequencing, the development of new humanized animal models of these diseases, and the compilation of large patient samples.a.

Among the scientific advances of the project, researchers have implemented protocols for advance genomics. Therefore, they used techniques such as RNA-sequencing or massively parallel single-cell RNA-sequencing based on small cell populations selected through high sensitivity fluorescence-activated cell sorting, a specialized type of flow cytometry. “The results obtained with these techniques are changing our understanding of myelomagenesis and clonal heterogeneity, and that could have an impact on the development of new therapeutic strategies,” says Dr Jesús San Miguel, Director of Clinical and Translational Medicine at Universidad de Navarra and the lead investigator. (Read more)

Advanced genomics, design of new animal models and patient sample collection: EDITOR project goals during 2019 (December 22th 2020)2020-05-08T08:56:05+00:00

The EDITOR project Advances in the Time of Coronavirus (March 9th 2020)

March 2020. The Steering Board from the EDITOR project, an international early detection and intervention of blood cancer research, held its third scientific meeting by videoconference.  Clinica Universidad de Navarra (Spain) organised this meeting in which 36 researchers attended. They represented the 13 research institutions from the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain that are part of the project. Also, there were representatives from the financing institutions (CRUK and AECC) and the multiple myeloma patient association. Due to the COVID-19 pandemia the meeting, initially planned to take place in Madrid, was replaced by a virtual meeting with the same agenda.

Dr Jesús San Miguel, Director of Clinical and Translational Medicine at the Universidad de Navarra and the lead investigator, introduced the session remembering the mission of the project and updating the progress achieved during its first year. Among them, he highlighted the design of new tools for cell detection and characterisation, the development of antibodies panels, the establishment of new protocols and the design of improved mouse models. Subsequently, there were sessions dedicated to the advances in each disease. Thus, they were focused on multiple myeloma (MM) or amyloidosis (AL), follicular lymphoma (FL), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). The last presentation was about the development of computational biology systems for the identification of new therapeutic targets and the design of personalised therapies for the treatment of these haematological malignancies. (Read more)

The EDITOR project Advances in the Time of Coronavirus (March 9th 2020)2020-05-08T09:15:23+00:00

Accelerator Award to improve early detection and intervention of blood cancers (Oct. 9th 2018)

BCI researchers are lead members of an international team to be funded by an Accelerator Award, which will bring together scientists from the UK, Spain and Italy in a bid to improve early detection and intervention of blood cancers. The award of £4.8M over 5 years, funded through a partnership between Cancer Research UK (CRUK), AIRC and FC AECC, encourages cross-institutional collaboration to unite resources and expertise to accelerate progress in cancer research.

The Accelerator Award, led by Prof Jesus San Miguel, Director of Clinical and Translational Medicine at the University of Navarra, Spain, will support research into three types of blood cancer: follicular lymphoma, multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukaemia, with each country acting as a specialist hub (across 13 centres) for one of these diseases. The three cancer types share similar features of progression, and the team hope to develop integrative models of how they evolve from a pre-malignant (or minimal residual disease) stage to malignant disease, and how best to target these cancers at their most vulnerable. (Read more)

Accelerator Award to improve early detection and intervention of blood cancers (Oct. 9th 2018)2020-02-07T12:23:43+00:00

Detecting blood cancers earlier than ever before. CRUK interviewa Dr. Jesús San Miguel (Sept. 13th 2018)

A new international Accelerator Award is funding researchers from the UK, Spain and Italy to improve early detection and intervention of haematological malignancies. The team is working together to develop disease models and produce data for studying blood cancers at an earlier stage. We talked to the lead investigator, Professor Jesus San Miguel – the Director of Clinical and Translational Medicine and Vice-Dean of the Medical Faculty at the University of Navarra – to learn about how they are combining their expertise to accelerate early detection for blood cancers. (Read more)
Detecting blood cancers earlier than ever before. CRUK interviewa Dr. Jesús San Miguel (Sept. 13th 2018)2020-02-07T12:19:02+00:00

An international research project will study for the first time de early detection and intervention in haematological tumors (Article in Spanish. Sept 26th 2018)

Detectar los tumores hematológicos de forma precoz para tratarlos lo más tempranamente posible y, así, poder lograr su curación es el objetivo principal de una investigación internacional que ha sido seleccionada con carácter prioritario  por un consorcio europeo de asociaciones contra el cáncer.

El proyecto ha recibido una de las 6 ayudas “Accelerator Awards”, una convocatoria internacional cuyo objetivo es acelerar el progreso de la investigación en cáncer para que los resultados lleguen cuanto antes a los pacientes, y es uno de los cuatro trabajos europeos que cuentan con una participación relevante de grupos de investigadores españoles. Además, en este caso, el estudio tiene un especial interés al ser el primero liderado por un investigador español, el Dr. Jesús San Miguel, director de Medicina Clínica y Traslacional de la Universidad de Navarra. (Read more)

An international research project will study for the first time de early detection and intervention in haematological tumors (Article in Spanish. Sept 26th 2018)2020-02-07T12:16:42+00:00

EDITOR Kick-off meeting held in CUN Madrid. (Article in Spanish Jan 11th 2019)

The Madrid campus of Clinica unviersidad de Navarra has hosted the kick-off meeting of the international project “Early detection and intervention: Understanding the mechanisms of transformation and hidden resistance of incurable haematological malignancies”, a collaboration of 13 Research Institutions from the UK, Spain and Italy funded through a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Fondazione AIRC and Fundación Científica de la Asociacion Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC), through the Accelerator Award Programme.

The sessions have reunited researchers from 13 center s of excellence focused on multiple myeloma, myelodisplastic syndorms/myeloblastic leucemia, and follicular lymphoma, the most frequent haematological cancer. (Read more)

EDITOR Kick-off meeting held in CUN Madrid. (Article in Spanish Jan 11th 2019)2020-02-07T12:21:38+00:00
Go to Top