Giving more time to people with multiple myeloma

01 December 2021
Key Researchers
Laboratory Head
Laboratory Head

More than 20,000 Australians live with multiple myeloma, an aggressive form of cancer in the bone marrow.

Myeloma is an incurable cancer that causes increased infections, kidney damage and bone pain. Even with treatment, most people live for an average of five years after diagnosis.

Treatments are often debilitating for patients, and more effective treatments are desperately needed.

WEHI consumer buddy and supporter Pete knows how gruelling these treatments can be. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015 and, as a result of his cancer and treatment, has experienced considerable pain, constant nausea, vomiting, insomnia, confusion, amnesia and loss of sensation and dexterity.

To make a difference in the lives of people like Pete, WEHI researchers are drawing on 105 years of discoveries and working closely together towards new treatments and reduced side effects for people with multiple myeloma.

Improving treatment options

Professor Stephen Nutt is leading a team that has identified a new genetic target which can destroy multiple myeloma.

Professor Nutt said his team was screening and rigorously testing 260,000 chemical compounds to identify potential compounds that could be developed as potential treatments for people with myeloma.

“We are now in the process of gearing up for the drug screens. On completion, we will figure out what the best candidates are for the development of medicines that could be progressed to clinical trials for patients.”
Professor Stephen Nutt
Associate Professor Edwin Hawkins.

Associate Professor Edwin Hawkins and his team are combining cell biology and the latest microscopy technologies to study the location, behaviour and interaction of myeloma cells within live tissue.

He said imaging enabled better targeting of treatments, measurement of their impact and understanding of the cancer’s resistance to therapy.

“If we can videotape what is happening within the bone marrow, we will be able to really understand the cell biology that drives multiple myeloma,” he said.

Pete said he and his wife Barb were grateful to be involved with WEHI and learn first-hand about the latest myeloma research.


“We place our hope in WEHI’s medical research and our faith in the generosity of people like you.”
Associate Professor Edwin Hawkins
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