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Scientists are making great progress in understanding how changes in the DNA inside normal lymphocytes can cause them to develop into WM cells. For example, in most people with WM, the cancer cells have been found to have changes in the MYD88 gene. In a smaller percentage of people, the WM cells have changes in the CXCR4 gene. Changes in these genes have been linked with a greater chance of WM causing symptoms and requiring treatment, and they seem to affect survival as well.
Researchers are now looking to develop drugs that can target cells with these gene changes. Some of these drugs are now in early clinical trials.
Many new drugs to treat WM are being studied in clinical trials, as well as ways to use drugs already known to be effective by combining them in new ways, using different doses, or different sequences of drugs, one after another.
Some of the newer types of drugs that have shown promise or are being tested in WM include:
Researchers are continually improving bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplant methods, as well as trying to determine how helpful this type of treatment can be for people with WM.
Doctors know it is possible for people with cancer to develop immune responses to their cancer. In rare instances, people’s immune systems have rejected their cancers, and they have been cured. Scientists are now studying ways to boost this immune reaction by using vaccines.
Unlike vaccines used to prevent infections, these vaccines create an immune reaction against the lymphoma cells in patients who have very early disease or whose disease is in remission but could come back or relapse. This is a major area of research in treating lymphomas (including WM), but it is still being tested in clinical trials. You might want to consider enrolling in one of these studies.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Mazzucchelli M., Frustaci A.M., Deodato M., Cairoli R., Tedeschi A. Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia: an update. Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis 2018, 10(1): e2018004, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4084/MJHID.2018.004
Treon SP, How I treat Waldenström macroglobulinemia. Blood. 2015;126:721-732. doi: 10.1182/blood-2015-01-553974. Epub 2015 May 22.
Last Revised: September 2, 2021