A collaborative research team involving Qatar University (QU) professors and international researchers have made a breakthrough in decoding the potential blood markers that could lead to early detection of multiple myeloma (MM), an elusive and incurable blood cancer.

This heralds a future where doctors can detect MM at its earliest stages, granting patients a powerful edge in confronting the disease.

According to an article on the latest edition of *QU Research Magazine by the research team lead and associate professor of biochemistry at QU’s College of Medicine, Dr Shona Pedersen, the research team used advanced metabolomics and biostatistics to decode the blood markers that could be used for early detection of MM.

The collaborative research team included Prof Soren Kristensen from Denmark’s Aalborg University Hospital, Prof Trygve Andreassen from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Prof Mohamed Elrayess, associate professor at QU’s Biomedical Research Centre.

MM, the second most common blood cancer, remains a challenging medical enigma.

It is a disease marked by diagnostic setbacks, recurrent relapses and no definitive cure.

Interestingly, MM begins its course covertly as Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS), but with time, manifests symptoms like bone pain, anaemia, kidney issues and infections.

Detecting MM early can dramatically alter the disease trajectory, enhancing both prognosis and survival.

However, the absence of a straightforward blood test for early detection is a significant gap.

“At present, our grasp of the metabolic changes between MGUS and MM is in its nascent stages, with only a handful of publications shedding light on MM’s metabolic nuances,” said Dr Pedersen. “Our study endeavoured to sharpen the molecular lens through which we view this relentless disease, pinpointing potential metabolites before they manifest clinically, thereby paving the way for more proactive interventions.”

The team employed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to contrast the serum metabolomes of healthy subjects with those diagnosed with MGUS and MM.

Through the application of NMR spectroscopy, their findings showcased a marked deviation in amino acids as MGUS takes shape.

Delving into the metabolic profiles of MGUS patients, it was observed that levels of alanine, lysine and leucine were diminished, while formic acid levels surged in comparison to controls.

The research group delved deep into the intricate relationships intertwining the clinical characteristics of MM patients, specific metabolites and certain lipoprotein subfractions.

They identified a strong correlation between levels of M-protein and serum proteins.

The team highlighted these specific lipoprotein subfractions as pivotal markers closely associated with the transition from MGUS to full-blown MM.

By shedding light on biological pathways previously undetected in plasma or bone marrow samples, they offer fresh perspectives on the journey from premalignant MGUS to malignant MM.

Furthermore, profiling serum metabolites offers invaluable data, facilitating the discovery of novel biomarkers.

These can significantly improve early detection and intervention for MGUS and MM.

“This study offers more than knowledge – it provides a beacon of hope,” Dr Pedersen said. “By identifying these lipoprotein subfractions as potential early markers, we have opened the doors to possible early intervention strategies.”

“The earlier we can detect and intervene in the development of MM, the brighter the prognosis for those affected by this malignancy,” she concluded.
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