Dissecting the multiple myeloma-bone microenvironment reveals new therapeutic opportunities

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Multiple myeloma is a plasma cell skeletal malignancy. While therapeutic agents such as bortezomib and lenalidomide have significantly improved overall survival, the disease is currently incurable with the emergence of drug resistance limiting the efficacy of chemotherapeutic strategies. Failure to cure the disease is in part due to the underlying genetic heterogeneity of the cancer. Myeloma progression is critically dependent on the surrounding microenvironment. Defining the interactions between myeloma cells and the more genetically stable hematopoietic and mesenchymal components of the bone microenvironment is critical for the development of new therapeutic targets. In this review, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of how microenvironmental elements contribute to myeloma progression and therapeutically, how those elements can or are currently being targeted in a bid to eradicate the disease.