Multiple Myeloma is a rare incurable cancer and accounts for 2% of new cancer diagnoses. Over 38000 new patients are diagnosed annually in Europe including 5500 in the UK. With improving myeloma survival, as observed in the last 10 years, an estimated number of up to 100,000 patients with myeloma live with this condition in Europe. Myeloma is unique in its presentation of multisystem morbidity leading to poor quality of life. With a peak incidence at 70 years of age, therapy delivery is often complicated by comorbidities. A number of therapeutic drug classes have been made available in clinic, but eventually myeloma cells become resistant and relapse leading to fatal outcomes. Myeloma emerges from a benign plasma cell clone resident for a number of years in patients, a condition termed as monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS). The mechanisms underpinning transformation of this benign clone to a malignant disease remain elusive. Understanding basic biological mechanisms driving MGUS - MM transition, as well as relapse and drug resistance mechanisms are crucial for progress in this field. Alongside basic biology, advancing experimental therapies into the clinic and optimising clinical outcomes and quality of life of myeloma patients with currently available interventional tools is critical.
Realising the strengths and depth in pre-clinical and clinical myeloma research within Oxford University, and adding to existing pre-clinical research collaborations we have created the Oxford Centre for Translational Myeloma Research (OTMC). The mission of this newly launched centre is to improve patient health, quality of life and ultimately find a cure. To accomplish this ambitious goal we are collaborating with like-minded international partners and are performing research into the processes underlying multiple myeloma and related plasma cell disorders. The Centre is uniquely placed to do so by combining outstanding clinical research with excellent basic science in Oxford and by working together with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), the NHS, patient organisations as well as national and international public academic institutions and pharmaceutical/ diagnostic industry with the aim of improving the diagnosis and treatment of myeloma.