Investigating the protein MUC1 and its potential role in using the tumour microenvironment to aid drug resistance and immune evasion in multiple myeloma


Tara O’Brien

My project is looking at a type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. This cancer affects white blood cells known as plasma cells. These cells help to fight off infection by producing antibodies, however in multiple myeloma, these plasma cells become cancerous and grow uncontrollably.  Every year, approximately 361 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma in Ireland. There are treatment options available to help slow down the spread of multiple myeloma and aid patient survival. Unfortunately, there is no cure and patients tend to relapse and become resistant to treatment. As a result, it is important to understand how and why the available treatment options are not working.

My project is looking at a particular protein called MUC1 that is found on multiple myeloma cells. MUC1 is known to assist in the growth, resistance to cell death and spread of multiple myeloma cells and many other cancers. As multiple myeloma is a cancer in the bone marrow, I will be researching whether or not this tumour environment leads to the production of more MUC1 on multiple myeloma cells. I will also be investigating if drugs which target MUC1 reduce or prevents the growth and survival of multiple myeloma cells.



Start year
End year
Principal Investigator
Dr Tony McElligott
Tara O'Brien
Grant Funding
Inaugural Breakthrough Summer Scholarship
Multiple Myeloma
Linked To Breakthrough Cancer Research Priorities
1, 4, 6

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