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Dr Lev Kats: Improving treatment outcomes for multiple myeloma

Dr Lev Kats, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Melbourne)

Around 14,400 Australians are currently living with myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma, which is a complex and relatively rare blood cancer affecting the body’s plasma cells, the cells that produce antibodies.

Treatment outcomes in multiple myeloma have significantly improved with the introduction of novel non-chemo treatments, in particular those targeting the way the cancerous plasma cells process proteins internally. 

Unfortunately, relapse rates are still high – new therapeutic approaches that are active in treatment-resistant disease are urgently required. 

Using CRISPR gene-editing technology, Dr Kats and his team looked for essential components of multiple myeloma cell protein processing machinery and identified that a protein called ‘DCAF1’ is required to keep multiple myeloma cells alive.  

The team’s medicinal chemists then devised a series of drug prototypes that could inhibit this protein – a potent inhibitor that can destroy both MM cell lines and MM cells from patients.  

Dr Kats and his team are now positioned to translate these findings to early phase clinical studies.  

About Lev 

Dr Lev Kats is a group leader in the Cancer Therapeutics Program and a Victorian Cancer Agency Mid-career Fellow. Dr Kats was awarded his PhD in 2009 from Monash University and underook post-doctoral work with Prof Pier Paolo Pandolfi at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School.