One of the many challenges of diagnosing cancer is the unpredictability of cells transitioning from pre-cancerous to malignant. If physicians were able to pre-empt cancerous cells from developing, it could be transformative in the progression of successful treatments.
The second most common blood cancer, multiple myeloma (MM), can only be diagnosed by watching and waiting, with little to no predictability until the disease has already manifested.
But what if that was a thing of the past?
Through a collaboration led by Weizmann scientists, Profs. Ido Amit of the Department of Immunology and Amos Tanay of the Department of Biological Regulation and the Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, small numbers of cells have been successfully identified at a pre-malignant stage, using technology referred to as single-cell RNA sequencing.
The process of scanning blood and bone marrow cells at an individual level offers a deeper insight far earlier for patients than in standard blood and bone marrow testing.
Additionally, research from Prof. Idit Shachar of the Department of Immunology examines how the relationship between malignant cells and their environment can accelerate multiple myeloma growth in bone marrow.
Removing receptors that act as a bridge between healthy and cancerous cells — through targeted therapy — is a strategy that may prove more effective than conventional approaches in destroying MM cells.
These breakthroughs may allow for revolutionary developments in more personalised, targeted and effective treatment options for multiple myeloma and could even be applied to the diagnosis and treatment of other types of cancer.
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