Skip to main content

ACS & ASCO are Stronger Together: Cancer.Net content is now available on

What’s New in Multiple Myeloma Research?

Important research into multiple myeloma is being done in university hospitals, medical centers, and other institutions around the world. Each year, scientists find out more about what causes the disease and how to improve treatment. Many new drugs are being tested.

Researchers have found that bone marrow-support tissues and bone cells produce growth factors that increase the growth of myeloma cells. In turn, the myeloma cells produce substances that cause bone cells to undergo changes that weaken the bones. These discoveries are helping researchers develop new drugs to block these growth factors, slow down the cancer, and reduce bone destruction.

Smoldering multiple myeloma

Even though most patients with smoldering multiple myeloma have a low risk of turning into active myeloma, there are certain patients with features that make them at higher risk of developing active myeloma. New research is showing that by treating these patients sooner than waiting for symptoms may delay when active myeloma starts and may also improve survival.

Minimal residual disease

Minimal residual disease is a term used when tiny amounts of myeloma cancer cells are still present in the bone marrow after treatment. Patients who have no cancer cells left after treatment appear to have better survival rates than patients who still have even very small amounts of cancer cells. New technologies are working to find one myeloma cell in a million normal cells. Studies are also looking into whether getting rid of every myeloma cancer cell (having no minimal residual disease) should be a goal of therapy.

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy

Your immune system helps keep track of all the substances normally found in your body. Any new substance the immune system doesn't recognize raises an alarm, causing the immune system to attack it. Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR T-cell therapy) is a promising new way to get immune cells called T cells (a type of white blood cell) to fight cancer by changing them in the lab so they can find and destroy cancer cells. Recent studies have shown CAR T-cell therapy with the BCMA protein to be very promising even in myeloma patients who have previously been treated with many drugs.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Anderson KC, Auclair D, Kelloff GJ, et al. The Role of Minimal Residual Disease Testing in Myeloma Treatment Selection and Drug Development: Current Value and Future Applications. Clin Cancer Res. 2017;23(15):3980-3993.

Berdeja JG et al. First-in-human multicenter study of bb2121 anti-BCMA CAR T-cell therapy for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma: Updated results. J Clin Oncol 35, 2017 (suppl; abstr 3010).

Dhodapkar MV et al. Hematologic Malignancies: Plasma Cell Disorders; 2017 ASCO Educational Book 561-568.

Fan X et al. Durable remissions with BCMA specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified T cells in patients with refractory/relapsed multiple myeloma. J Clin Oncol 35, 2017 (suppl; abstr LBA3001).

Mateos MV, et al. Lenalidomide plus Dexamethasone for High-Risk Smoldering Multiple Myeloma. N Engl J Med 2013; 369:438-447.

Rajkumar SV, Landgren O and Mateos MV. Smoldering Multiple Myeloma. Blood 2015; 125:3069-3075.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. Multiple myeloma. V.3.2018. Accessed at on Dec. 7, 2017.

Munshi NC, Anderson KC. Ch. 112 Plasma cell neoplasms. In: DeVita VT, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, eds. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

Palumbo A, Anderson K. Multiple myeloma. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(11):1046-1060.

Rajkumar SV, Dispenzieri A. Multiple myeloma and related disorders. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th edition. Philadelphia, PA. Elsevier: 2014:1991-2017.


Last Revised: February 28, 2018

American Cancer Society Emails

Sign up to stay up-to-date with news, valuable information, and ways to get involved with the American Cancer Society.