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Therapeutic targeting of IRF4 to treat multiple myeloma

Steven Nutt

 

Professor Stephen Nutt, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (Melbourne).
Funding period: 2019 – 2022.

This research project is kindly supported through the Estate of Davina Sickerdick.

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a cancer characterised by overgrowth of a white blood cell called plasma cells that form in the bone marrow. This aberrant growth depends on a regulatory protein called IRF4. Prof Nutt will employ a novel approach to identify and test drugs that can inhibit IRF4 and block the growth of MM cells.

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a form of cancer that arises from altered plasma cells whose number can no longer be appropriately controlled and is one of the most common blood cancers. Plasma cells are a specialized cell type that produce the antibodies that are essential to protect us from microorganisms and provide the basis for the beneficial effects of immunization. Despite considerable advances in treatments options in recent years, MM remains incurable.

Work from a number of researchers has identified a regulatory protein called IRF4 as being essential for MM cell survival. Recent data supports the idea that inhibiting IRF4 function represents an exciting approach for the effective treatment of MM. Prof Nutt’s laboratory have developed a new experimental system to probe the IRF4 molecule to identify new areas of weakness and aim to translate this knowledge into anti-IRF4 drugs that can be rapidly developed into new potential treatments for MM.