MCRI Research Update: Testing Your Individual Tumor Against Available Myeloma Therapies with Cesar Rodriguez, MD, Wake Forest
Posted: Oct 19, 2019
MCRI Research Update: Testing Your Individual Tumor Against Available Myeloma Therapies with Cesar Rodriguez, MD, Wake Forest image

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The Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative (MCRI) taps into the power of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to find and fund the best ideas, research and clinical applications leading to new myeloma treatments or potential cures. Currently, the MCRI is funding three research projects: 

Dr. Chung, MD, PhD - Creating an Immune System Signature

Dr. Rodriguez, MD - Testing Your Individual Myeloma Tumor Against Available Myeloma Therapies

Dr. Zhan, PhD - Targeting CD24 to Eliminate Myeloma Stem Cells

We recently spoke with each research project to provide an update. Thank you to our incredible donors for helping make this research possible!

Here is an exciting update from Dr. Rodriguez on Testing Your Individual Myeloma Tumor Against Myeloma Therapies Using Organoids.

We know that all myeloma is not the same, yet most patients are treated with similar combinations of myeloma therapies in similar orders. How do we know if a patient's myeloma is actually responding to all of the drugs in that combination? 

Today, doctors rely on blood and bone marrow tests to determine how the myeloma is behaving after therapy, but what if you could predict a response BEFORE you received treatment? 

Dr. Rodriguez has developed a 3D method called "organoids" to take a bone marrow sample that collects not only the myeloma cells, but also the surrounding cells in the bone marrow microenvironment that are keeping the tumor alive. He then creates a model of these cells using a 3D printer to print miniature versions of these tumors and grow them in the lab. Armed with many versions of a patients' own tumor, he can then study two critical components. 

First, Dr. Rodriguez can study the surrounding cells in the bone marrow. This is critical because these cells could be the cause of drug resistance, or could make myeloma cells more susceptible to treatment or even help them survive following treatment. 

Second, he can now test your individual tumor against 30-40 different myeloma treatment combinations to predict which will have the highest myeloma-killing impact. This is critical because each patient is unique and their myeloma can change over time. Why guess when selecting a treatment combination that could be ineffective and cause early relapse when a more personalized therapy could be provided? 

Currently this personalized tumor modeling is being tested in individual patients and is then being compared to real world outcomes to see if the correlation is strong enough to use this type of testing as a predictive way of navigating treatment. More samples are needed to validate that this approach works and the goal of his research is to provide more accurate, effective treatments for individual patients. 

Your donations to the Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative will help this important work progress with further analysis on more patient samples. Absolutely 100% of all funds donated to the MCRI are given directly to the researchers. Please consider donating to this important project today.

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The author Jennifer Ahlstrom

about the author
Jennifer Ahlstrom

Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can help accelerate a cure by weighing in and participating in clinical research. Founder of Myeloma Crowd by HealthTree and the HealthTree Foundation.

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