Impact of Gifts

Myeloma is an incurable disease, making research funding critically important. The IU Simon Cancer Center’s myeloma team is taking on myeloma in three ways: laboratory research, clinical trial research and patient advocacy.

Laboratory Research

The biology of myeloma is extremely complicated and varies widely from patient to patient and within the patient, making it an especially difficult disease to treat. Our laboratory research team seeks to better understand myeloma on a cellular level and to unlock the secrets of the relationship between myeloma cells, the bone marrow and the bone. We want to discover therapies that will target specific characteristics of the disease. For example, we know that because the biological makeup of myeloma cells varies so much between patients, we need drugs that attack many of the different pathways inside the cells that allow them to survive. We also need to make the supporting environment — where the cells live — much less hospitable to myeloma cell growth.

Clinical Trial Research

We work diligently to bring new treatment options to patients through clinical trials. For example, we have recently explored the use of new drugs for patients just diagnosed with myeloma. We have also designed clinical trials that combine new agents with a novel biologically driven way of delivering chemotherapy. These studies were well received by our colleagues at an American Society of Hematology meeting.

In addition, Rebecca Silbermann, M.D., with guidance from G. David Roodman, M.D., Ph.D., will soon open a clinical trial examining the role of ACE-011, a protein that blocks the Activin A receptor in patients with myeloma bone disease. In the laboratory, Dr. Silbermann has shown that Activin A increases the activity of cells that break down bone, and that Activin A levels are elevated in myeloma patients. Clinical trials of ACE-011 in other populations have shown that osteoporosis patients treated with this compound have improvements in their bone density. Dr. Silbermann is interested in testing if this compound could improve bone density in myeloma patients and heal myeloma bone lesions.

Because we believe that such interaction with other myeloma experts is critical to move research forward more quickly, we partner with others studying myeloma both nationally and internationally through our participation in the Aptium Oncology Myeloma Consortium, the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group and through Dr. Abonour and Dr. Roodman’s participation on the International Myeloma Foundation’s International Myeloma Working Group.

Patient Advocacy

Every year, our team sits down with more than 100 new patients and their families and explains to them that they’ve just been diagnosed multiple myeloma, a cancer most of them have never even heard of. We know that many of our patients feel overwhelmed and alone in their diagnosis, and we know that they need more than the promise of ongoing research. Our Myeloma Support Group meets on the first Monday of each month to help navigate the emotional, social, economic and scientific aspects of the disease. In an effort to improve the quality of life for our patients, we host an annual “Evening for Myeloma Patients and their Families.” We invite all of our patient families from across Indiana and adjacent states to come together for a dinner that builds camaraderie and friendships among people facing similar battles with a terrible disease. During the dinners, myeloma experts from IU and across the country speak to our patient families to help them better understand their disease, and, more importantly, what researchers are doing to improve treatment options for myeloma patients.

We also consider Miles for Myeloma to be an important component of our patient advocacy. Every dollar you help us raise translates into hope in the form of continued research.