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Multiple Myeloma Progression Influenced by Immune Microenvironment Expression

For a paper appearing in NPJ Genomic Medicine, researchers from the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, the Emory University, and elsewhere suggest that gene expression in immune microenvironment cells may help to distinguish between multiple myeloma cases with or without rapid progression. As part of a multi-center pilot study, the team analyzed single-cell RNA sequence data for more than 102,200 CD138-negative cells isolated from four dozen bone marrow samples collected from 18 multiple myeloma patients, including nine cases with progression-free survival shorter than 18 months and nine non-progressing cases with progression-free survival that exceeded four years. The fast-progressing multiple myelomas were marked by microenvironments with enhanced levels of certain exhausted T cells and macrophages, coupled with an uptick in pro-proliferative signaling activity and lower-than-usual cytolytic marker levels, the authors report. In contrast, immature B cell levels and B cell development-related expression appeared to be enhanced in the multiple myeloma patients classified as non-progressors. "Integrating single-cell profiling data from multi-center national and international trials will enable the identification of novel potent biomarker(s) for disease diagnoses and therapeutic interventions critical for a better prognosis of [multiple myeloma] patients," they write.