|Institution:||Università di Bologna|
|Keywords:||MED/15 Malattie del sangue|
|Full text PDF:||http://amsdottorato.unibo.it/6779/1/Brioli_Annamaria_tesi.pdf|
Understanding the biology of Multiple Myeloma (MM) is of primary importance in the struggle to achieve a cure for this yet incurable neoplasm. A better knowledge of the mechanism underlying the development of MM can guide us in the development of new treatment strategies. Studies both on solid and haematological tumours have shown that cancer comprises a collection of related but subtly different clones, a feature that has been termed “intra-clonal heterogeneity”. This intra-clonal heterogeneity is likely, from a “Darwinian” natural selection perspective, to be the essential substrate for cancer evolution, disease progression and relapse. In this context the critical mechanism for tumour progression is competition between individual clones (and cancer stem cells) for the same microenvironmental “niche”, combined with the process of adaptation and natural selection. The Darwinian behavioural characteristics of cancer stem cells are applicable to MM. The knowledge that intra-clonal heterogeneity is an important feature of tumours’ biology has changed our way to addressing cancer, now considered as a composite mixture of clones and not as a linear evolving disease. In this variable therapeutic landscape it is important for clinicians and researchers to consider the impact that evolutionary biology and intra-clonal heterogeneity have on the treatment of myeloma and the emergence of treatment resistance. It is clear that if we want to effectively cure myeloma it is of primarily importance to understand disease biology and evolution. Only by doing so will we be able to effectively use all of the new tools we have at our disposal to cure myeloma and to use treatment in the most effective way possible. The aim of the present research project was to investigate at different levels the presence of intra-clonal heterogeneity in MM patients, and to evaluate the impact of treatment on clonal evolution and on patients’ outcomes.