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Super strength immune cells fighting cancer

BACKGROUND: Multiple myeloma is a cancer of your plasma cells, a type of white blood cell present in your bone marrow. Plasma cells normally make proteins called antibodies to help you fight infections. In multiple myeloma, a group of plasma cells (myeloma cells) becomes cancerous and multiplies, raising the number of plasma cells to a higher than normal level. (SOURCE:

ESTIMATED NEW CASES AND DEATHS: It is estimated that in the US over 22 thousand people will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and over half of them will die from the disease in 2013. (SOURCE:

SYMPTOMS: No one knows the exact causes of multiple myeloma, but it is more common in older people and African Americans. It can also run in families. Common symptoms may include:

·         Bone pain, often in the back or ribs

·         Broken bones

·         Weakness or fatigue

·         Weight loss

·         Repeated infections

·         Frequent infections and fevers

·         Feeling very thirsty

·         Frequent urination


LATEST MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH: While there's no cure for multiple myeloma, with good treatment results patients can usually return to near-normal activity. There are several treatment options, including stem cell transplantation. This treatment involves using high-dose chemotherapy — usually high doses of melphalan — along with transfusion of previously collected immature blood cells (stem cells) to replace diseased or damaged marrow. The stem cells can come from the patient or from a donor, and they may be from either blood or bone marrow. (SOURCE:


Karen E. Warmkessel
Media Relations Manager
University of Maryland Medical Center/University of Maryland Medical System

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