Myeloma’s Achilles’ heel?

The multiple myeloma patient support list (MMSupport) has been buzzing with a bit of news that you can read about on the National Cancer Institute website:


In a nutshell, our myeloma cells rely on the activity of a single protein, IRF4, for the activation of a wide range of genes responsible for cell survival and spread. Blocking the production of this protein can be strikingly effective in eliminating cancer cells in laboratory models of multiple myeloma. “These findings reveal a hitherto unknown and, for myeloma cells, critical network of gene activity centered on this one protein,” said Louis M. Staudt, M.D., Ph.D., deputy chief of the Metabolism Branch at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research. “What we have now is a new window of opportunity for therapeutic development in multiple myeloma.”  The abstract of the June 22nd “Nature” study can be read here:


IRF4 is not a mutant form, by the way, but its ability to activate normally inactive genetic programs inappropriately is crucial for the survival of myeloma cells. So, by blocking IRF4, we should be able to kill our myeloma cells. Would this include our myeloma stem cells? Well, that is not clear in the news release. Perhaps there is a mention of this in the full study.


Speaking of which, my dear Sherlock sent me the full study, but I haven’t had time to read it yet. I will print it out and read it at some point tomorrow and then post about anything of interest, ah, but not until Sunday at least, since tomorrow my brilliant husband is going to check my computer and almost certainly take it apart in order to change or fix a few components that have been misbehaving recently. This means, by the way, that I will be offline (e-mail included) for most if not the entire weekend.


Anyway, I also wanted to mention that the IRF4-myeloma connection does not really appear to be a “new” discovery. There may, of course, be some new findings (I won’t know until I read the full 2008 study), but if you search PubMed you will find an IRF4-myeloma study (see: published in “Nature Genetics”…in 1997. More than ten years ago, that is…no comment…


Now I just have to do some research to find a natural inhibitor of IRF4. By the way, if anyone finds out something in this sense, please let me know. Thanks! Oh, have a great weekend, everyone! Smiley face


  1. This is a great comment, and I look forward to hearing more about the results of your research. I agree that it sounds like natural inhibitors of IRF4 are an exciting research direction, and I too wish these “breakthroughs” took less than 11 years to make headlines.
    I wrote a small summary of the new Staudt research on my site,


  2. This is very interesting Roberto. Once again we have a connection between inflammatory disorders of the digestive tract and MM. Many people with MM are suggesting a link on the bulletin boards.

  3. Well it sounds to me like they already have a “key” that fits this “lock”. That’s the only way they could have blocked it and thus determined what pathways were then inactivated. Now if only this is true for the myeloma stem cells also….

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