Multiple myeloma may be linked to a silenced gene, according to a study published in PLoS ONE (2010 Jul 9;5(7):e11483).

During the study, designed to present a new model for the development and progression of multiple myeloma, researchers used large cohorts of myeloma patients to identify a profile of genes that are silenced by epigenetic mechanisms in the malignant plasma cell.

When researchers compared the silenced gene profile to normal plasma cells they found that the silenced genes had a common factor in being targets and controlled by the Polycomb repressor complex (PcG). In addition, researchers reported that inhibitors of PcG also could decrease the growth of tumor cells in an animal model of myeloma.

“A new strategy for treating multiple myeloma could be to develop drugs that are targeted to the PcG complex, leading to reactivation of the silenced gene profile,” said Helena Jernberg Wiklund, professor at the Department of Genetics and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala University and one of the investigators in the study.