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Can Prognosis Be Linked to Esterase Gene Expression in Myeloma?

By: Celeste L. Dixon
Posted: Monday, April 19, 2021

Based on recent research findings, several individual genes in esterase enzymes seem to exhibit relatively high or low median expression in bone marrow aspirates from patients with multiple myeloma. Esterases have a significant potential for exploitation in drug design, stated Caroline A. Heckman, PhD, of the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland in Helsinki, and colleagues. Hypothetically, they noted in the British Journal of Cancer that esterase gene-expression profiles may help identify patient subgroups more likely to respond to drugs such as melflufen, which use these enzymes within their mechanism of action.

Specifically, the team found that high expression of OVCA2, PAFAH1B3, USP4, and SIAE and low expression of PCED1B may be associated with a poor prognosis in multiple myeloma (P < .05). Also significantly, Dr. Heckman and co-researchers described, esterase gene-expression levels seem to change as patients progress from newly diagnosed multiple myeloma to relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma.

The scientists’ work was based on 171 bone marrow aspirates from 134 patients (newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, n = 56; relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, n = 78) in the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland cohort. The specific esterases whose expression was significantly altered as the disease progressed from newly diagnosed to resistant were UCHL5, SIAE, ESD, PAFAH1B3, PNPLA4, and PON1.

“Further work is needed to elucidate the biological significance of esterases in cancer,” concluded Dr. Heckman and colleagues. Then, the field can “better understand how [esterases] can be effectively utilized to activate anticancer drugs in tumor cells.”

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information can be found at

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