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Hepatitis Treatment as a Possible Therapy for Myeloma Patients?
Posted: Apr 11, 2024
Hepatitis Treatment as a Possible Therapy for Myeloma Patients?  image

According to current research, viruses like hepatitis B and C could be a potential cause of multiple myeloma, and eliminating infection with antivirals could be a way to both treat the viruses and improve myeloma outcomes. 

In a remarkable effort between the Hospital 12 de Octubre (Spain), the National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO, Spain), and Sylvie Hermouet of the University of Nantes (France), we now know more about the efficacy of antiviral therapy to control the progression of multiple myeloma

Is There a Connection Between Chronic Hepatitis and Myeloma? 

In the last few years, researchers have found an association between chronic viral hepatitis and multiple myeloma, smoldering myeloma, and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). There have also been reports of a link between myeloma and some viruses, such as hepatitis C, HIV, and Epstein-Barr virus. Deeper analyses explained that actually, viruses like hepatitis B and C that generate chronic infection can cause liver diseases like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and, now, hematologic malignancies. Even when there are no noticeable symptoms, latent infections have a role in the body’s inflammation, immune system dysfunction, and abnormal growth of white blood cells, which can promote the development of certain malignancies.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, specifically, has been associated with reduced survival in patients with multiple myeloma. 

Can Antiviral Therapy Improve Myeloma Patient's Survival? 

The evaluation of patients with MGUS or myeloma who also had hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, revealed that in 36.7% of cases, the viral infection was a key initiator of the abnormal production of immunoglobulins in the bone marrow. These initial findings support the potential of anti-HCV treatment to enhance outcomes in some patients with multiple myeloma and other plasma cell dyscrasias. Therefore, identifying which multiple myeloma patients have hepatitis C virus (HCV) and/or HBV infections can impact their overall survival.

The investigators then analyzed a large database of more than 2,000 myeloma patients with HBV or HCV infection, some of whom also received antiviral therapy. They saw that in both cases, hepatitis B or C virus, treated patients lived significantly longer than those who were never treated for their viral infection. 

"The association between viral hepatitis and the development of multiple myeloma and other monoclonal gammopathies has become an important field of research. Chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus infections contribute to the pathogenesis of these hematological neoplasms, which justifies an increase in awareness, detection, and treatment strategies."

In summary

This research indicates that for a significant percentage of patients with monoclonal gammopathies and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, the virus could be the trigger of their abnormal immunoglobulin production. It also shows that treating HCV and HBV infections in these patients can improve survival outcomes. Early detection and targeted treatment can significantly impact patients with viral hepatitis and blood disorders.

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The author Jimena Vicencio

about the author
Jimena Vicencio

Jimena is an International Medical Graduate who is part of the HealthTree Patient Experience team. She loves learning new things led by her curiosity, playing with her pets, and exercising in her free time.

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