Treatment for Multiple Myeloma - Researching Potential Drug Candidates
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Treatment for Multiple Myeloma  
Researching Potential Drug Candidates

May 10, 2023

This year, the American Cancer Society estimates nearly 36,000 people will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the United States and more than 12,000 people will die from the disease.

Eric Wang, PhD
Eric Wang, PhD

Eric Wang, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at PCOM School of Pharmacy, is researching potential drug candidates for the treatment of this deadly disease.

“Multiple myeloma currently has no cure and the 5-year relative survival rate in the United State is 55%,” he said. “Therefore, it is important to us to identify effective therapeutic agents with anti-myeloma efficacy.”

To do that, Wang and his team are looking at new compounds from natural sources that are harsh on the cancer cells but friendly to the normal cells.

“We are developing new models using 3D bioprinting techniques to screen drug candidates in a more realistic platform than traditional 2D cell culture settings,” he explained. “This phase is crucial in the development of new therapeutic strategies which will move forward to the clinical evaluation.”

What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects the plasma cells in bone marrow which produce antibodies to help fight infections. In a patient with multiple myeloma, these plasma cells begin to produce abnormal proteins that can damage bones, kidneys and other organs.

As the cancer progresses, it can cause a range of symptoms including bone pain, fatigue, weakness and an increased risk of infections. Current treatment for multiple myeloma may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, bone marrow transplant or a combination thereof. The specific approach will depend on the individual's age, overall health and the stage of the disease.

How does multiple myeloma kill you?

Multiple myeloma can lead to various complications that can ultimately cause death due to the damage to bones, kidneys and other organs. The abnormal proteins produced by the cancer cells may lead to kidney failure. Multiple myeloma can also weaken the immune system, making it difficult for the body to fight off infections that can ultimately be fatal. In some cases, multiple myeloma can also lead to the development of secondary cancers, such as leukemia or lymphoma.

While multiple myeloma is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, many people are able to manage their symptoms and live for many years with proper treatment and care. Early detection and treatment can be important in improving the outlook for individuals with multiple myeloma.

A commitment to research

Wang’s interest in research is inherited from and motivated by his mother, who was a professor and researcher in the field of pharmaceutical sciences.

“The most important thing I learned from my mom about research is her dedication to the research, which comes from her passion and commitment to the research she conducts,” he said.

Wang is exercising his passion and commitment to research as a faculty researcher at PCOM. According to Wang, he has enjoyed what he describes as an "exceptional" research experience.

“PCOM provides internal funding and a research assistance team (research officers, managers, technicians) to make sure my research is fully supported,” he said.

Wang also works with students, including those in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program who have elected to pursue student research opportunities. Wang advises aspiring researchers to be passionate about what they are doing and maintain a commitment to their research goals.

“Stay curious about the research you are interested in,” he said. “Keep your dedication in pursuing the research outcomes, and be positive and look for alternative approaches if the results don't meet your expectations.”

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