Viral hepatitis therapy may eliminate multiple myeloma

The viruses that cause hepatitis B and C may be the cause—or at least one of them—of multiple myeloma (MM), and eliminating the infection is a way to combat many cases of this type of blood cancer that begins in plasma cells in the body person. Bone marrow. This is one of the conclusions of a study by the group of Joaquín Martínez from the Clinical Research Unit of Hematological Tumors, created as a collaboration between the Hospital 12 October (H12O) in Madrid and the National Center for Cancer Research (CNIO).

According to Dr. Carmen Albo, head of the hematology service at the University Hospital Complex Vigo (CHUVI), this discovery opens “a very important door to knowledge of the possible causes of these diseases.” “There are already other hematological diseases that have been shown to be associated with chronic infections, such as certain types of lymphoma,” he says.

Several years ago, the cure of a patient with multiple myeloma after treatment for hepatitis C surprised researchers. Maria Linares and Alba Rodríguez-García, researchers from H12O-CNIO and the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), decided to study the treatment of this patient with hepatitis, for which they resorted to a theory that explains the cause of multiple myeloma by chronic exposure to an infectious agent.

MM, one of the most common types of blood cancer, is an excessive proliferation of blood cells that produce antibodies (also called immunoglobulins), proteins that protect the body from infections. With myeloma, specific antibodies are constantly and in excess produced – different in each case, depending on the infectious agent. One theory suggests that this abnormality occurs due to chronic exposure to an infectious agent that alters the biochemical signals involved in the production of specific antibodies. The cure of a patient with myeloma and hepatitis C after treatment for this infectious disease appears to support this theory.

It is unknown what causes MM, and although it has long been suggested that it is associated with infectious pathogens, this link has never been proven. The discovery, made in collaboration with Sylvie Hermouet of the University of Nantes, earned a recent editorial in the journal Haematologica. “Recognition of this association between viral hepatitis and multiple myeloma, as well as the pathologies that precede the onset of myeloma (monoclonal gammopathies), has important clinical implications,” the article states, adding: “The association between viral hepatitis and the development of multiple myeloma and other monoclonal gammopathies has become an important area of ​​research. “Chronic hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus infections contribute to the pathogenesis of these hematologic malignancies, justifying increased awareness, detection and treatment strategies.”

Likewise, it highlights that early identification of hepatitis B or C viral infection in these individuals can lead to appropriate antiviral treatment and subsequent improved outcomes.

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