Updated on: Jan 9 2014



Objectives of MSCNET

MSCNET (Myeloma Stem Cell Network) is a translational programme identifying and targeting the myeloma stem cell. The network is supported by EU's Sixth Framework Programme.



Summary of the project

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a disease where malignant plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow. Normal plasma cell development at this site is thought to reflect a synchronous terminal differentiation of B cells that have followed sequential stages of maturation. In MM however, disease characterization has revealed a number of phenotypic and molecular features that suggest the existence of a clonally-related 'less mature' cell, and the question arises whether this may be critical to propagating disease. To address this, the MSCNET has formulated a strategy, which includes genomic and proteomic approaches, to examine the nature of the cell underlying MM disease origins and progression. This will utilize both in-vitro and in-vivo models of disease, and examine MM at presentation and during its advance to track factors governing disease behaviour in this regard.




MM is at present an incurable disease, for which effective new therapies are being actively sought. It is by no means clear however what the nature of clonal propagation is in MM. To progress work in this area, the MSCNET has set out to identify the nature of the cell underlying disease survival and persistence.




One of the most striking concepts emerging in cancer biology is a role for cancer stem cells (CSCs) in feeding malignant cell growth and tumour maintenance. By definition, these CSCs have an indefinite self-renewal potential, and are able to populate both their own pool and growth of the tumour. Although the first indication that such a cell might exist came from studies in leukaemia, evidence for CSCs in solid tumours lends further support for the concept. The question for the MSCNET is whether such a stem cell exists in MM. We are interested in defining whether the putative myeloma stem cell (MSC) exists as a less- differentiated clonally-related B-cell, or as a more mature plasma blast/ plasma clonogenic cell. We will seek to determine which of these strands are supported fully by experimental evidence, or if at all both are, at different phases of disease.



Expected results

We believe that significant progress will be made in identifying the MSC for the following reasons:

We have put together well-defined research goals and an experimental strategy.

As a network, we will have ease of access to well-defined tumour material and models of disease.

Our network interfaces clinical and laboratory experience, optimizing the potential for understanding MM.

The MSCNET is an umbrella organization of key European investigators who have demonstrated an international impact with their research on MM.

Our network will facilitate an excellent cross-fertilization of skills and ideas to pursue the MSCNET research goals.



Potential applications

Identifying the nature of the MSC will have a profound impact on our understanding of disease in MM. Importantly, it will allow us to examine whether there are any MSC- related features that can be targeted by specific therapies to ablate malignant disease. The MSCNET is well placed to develop immunotherapeutic strategies to target a potential MSC, and would also seek to develop drug-based approaches to attack the MSC.

Secr. Hans E. Johnsen | Depart. of Haematology | Aalborg University Hospital | Sdr. Skovvej 15 | DK-9000 Aalborg | Denmark | T:+45 9766 3871 | F:+45 9766 6369