Grants - V Scholar Grants - Ohio - 2018

Jianjun Zhao, M.D., Ph.D.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood and is the second most frequently diagnosed blood cancer in the US. Every year, about 30,000 patients are newly diagnosed, and about 12,000 die from this cancer. The main symptoms include anemia, bone pain, kidney failure, and infections. The most recent treatments have improved patient survival from about 3.5 to 5 years. Unlike some other blood cancers, myeloma still cannot be cured. Thus, the development of new drugs and treatments is essential. The purpose of our study is to understand how an understudied class of genes, called long noncoding RNA genes (lncRNAs), participates in the development of multiple myeloma and may be used to develop entirely new treatments. Specifically, we propose innovative approaches to investigate a specific lncRNA gene, MALAT1 (metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1) and how it functions in the repair of damaged DNA to promote the initiation and progression of multiple myeloma. We recently discovered that the MALAT1 gene is involved in an alternative DNA repair network that has seldom been studied in multiple myeloma. We believe that MALAT1 modulates the transition to advanced myeloma and myleoma that occurs outside the bone marrow. Our fundamental goal is to establish how MALAT1 regulates the repair of DNA damage and therefore its functional significance in multiple myeloma initiation and progression. This entirely novel knowledge will open new avenues for patient therapy and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

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