Study Will Examine Precursor to Multiple Myeloma in African Americans

The University of Alabama recently announced that Elizabeth Brown, PhD, MPH, professor in the division of Molecular and Cellular Pathology at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), received a $3.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the epigenetic contribution to the risk of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). MGUS is a precursor condition to multiple myeloma, the most common hematologic malignancy in African Americans.

In a news article put out by UAB, Dr. Brown explained the lack of understanding surrounding why the incidence of MGUS is higher in African Americans compared with European Americans.

To learn more, the study will examine unrecognized genetic and environmental factors that may account for these differences by using recent advances in epigenomics. The study will include more than 3,000 participants drawn from nine study sites in the United States, the intramural National Cancer Institute, and the International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium.

“Not everyone with MGUS progresses to myeloma, and this is key,” Dr. Brown said in a UAB article. “We need better clinical tools to differentiate who among MGUS patients are at high or low risk for progressing to multiple myeloma. We are looking to discover new biomarkers to improve our ability to identify high-risk MGUS patients leading to better surveillance and treatment of these patients early and to promote a longer, better life.”

This new grant provides continued funding to Dr. Brown’s Integrative Molecular and Genetics Epidemiology study of myeloma, which was designed to gain better understanding of the causes of multiple myeloma and the pre-malignant conditions like MGUS that lead to the disease.