‘Knowledge Is Exponential’ in the Rare Blood Cancer Space


One scientific development can lead to many more for patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms, a type of rare blood cancer, according to an expert.

The treatment landscape for myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) is ever-changing. “It’s hard to keep up, but it’s exciting,” said Dr. Steven Applebaum, a hematologist oncologist at UCLA Health in Pasadena, California.

In an interview with CURE®, Applebaum, who was recognized at 10th Annual MPN Heroes® event in December, explained that discoveries in other diseases could pave the way for a better understanding of MPNs, a rare group of blood cancers including polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia and myelofibrosis.

“Knowledge is somewhat exponential,” he said. “You make one discovery, which seems big, and then that kind of leads to not one more, but five more.”

Of note, Applebaum said that researchers and clinicians continue to learn more about genetic mutations and targeted therapies that will help personalize MPN therapies and make them more effective — helping patients with the disease to live longer and with a better quality of life.

MORE: Ongoing Research May Lead to ‘Exciting’ Advancements for Myelofibrosis Years Down the Line


Looking at a lot of other diseases, I mean, knowledge is somewhat exponential. You make one discovery, which seems big, and then that kind of leads to not one more, but five more. The guys doing research in the lab, I expect us to learn a lot more different mutations, you know, targeted therapy. So I think we're all really excited just looking at a lot of other diseases as a model, that there's going to be increasing numbers of treatments that again, are going to help people live longer, but also improve their quality of life.

So the thing about being an oncologist is that (when) you've finished your training, you realize you don't know anything; everything's in evolution. So, the things I knew back then are really so cursory relative what we know now, so it's part of what motivates us to keep going as you know that the changes in the discoveries and new treatments are going to be coming almost daily. I mean, it's hard to keep up but it’s exciting.

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