LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), has received two grants that total almost $3.14 million to study the molecular genetics and drug resistance of multiply myeloma, the second-most common blood-related cancer.

Dr. Fenghuang “Frank” Zhan the Myeloma Center research director for UAMS is the one who received the grant for the school.

One of the grants that was received from the U.S. Department of Defense provided $1.4 million, and the other grant, which came from the National Institutes of Health was for $1.74 million.

The money is being used to better understand the biological processes behind myeloma in order to search for new treatments and cures.

“Once the biology of myeloma stem cells is better understood, more novel therapeutic targets can be created and tested, with the ultimate goal being to develop a novel therapy and prevent myeloma relapses,” said Zhan, who holds the Morrison Family Endowed Chair in Myeloma Research.

With the grant Dr. Zhan will study the biology of specific myeloma cancer cells that can survive chemotherapy. Dr. Zhan is hoping to find a potential cure that is aimed at erasing these cells. The theoretical treatment has two parts:

A stem cell transplant that occurs in two phases coupled with chemotherapy, following by a particular type of immunotherapy aimed at killing the remaining drug-resistant cells.

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