Partner provided content: MPN Research Foundation
AN OVERVIEW OF MPNS
Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are a closely related group of progressive blood cancers in which the bone marrow typically overproduces one of the mature blood elements. Other shared features include tendencies toward blood clotting/bleeding, organ enlargement, bone marrow scarring (fibrosis) and a possibility of transformation. Although MPNs can strike anyone at any age, most patients are afflicted in the sixth decade of life or later.
Stem cell transplants may offer a cure for some myelofibrosis sufferers. But there are no known cures for most MPNs. However, patients can experience few or no symptoms for extended periods of time and many people who suffer from MPNs can enjoy longevity with proper monitoring and treatment. The identification of the JAK2 gene marker in 2005 and the CALR gene marker in 2013 have led to significant advances in the diagnosis, understanding of disease processes and treatment of MPNs.
At the MPN Research Foundation, we’re committed to funding researchers in their quest to treat and ultimately cure MPNs. But even more importantly, we’re committed to providing patients, their families and the entire MPN community with advocacy, education, and resources. Working together, we can change the prognosis and create a brighter future for people whose lives are affected by this group of diseases.
TYPES OF MPNS
There are three blood cancer types that are categorized as “classic” MPNs: Primary Myelofibrosis (MF), Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) and Polycythemia Vera (PV):
- Primary Myelofibrosis (MF) – Most commonly seen in men and women over the age of 60, MF is a chronic blood cancer in which the bone marrow function is impacted by scarring. Patients often have associated symptoms and an enlarged spleen. MF can occur in patients with no prior history of an MPN (primary MF) or as a progression of PV or ET.
- Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) – ET is a blood malignancy that is typically characterized by an elevation of platelets in the blood. It is most prevalent in women over the age of 50 and common symptoms include blood clotting and bleeding. ET patients have a later risk of progression to MF.
- Polycythemia Vera (PV) – Characterized by an elevation of red blood cells, PV is most commonly diagnosed in men over the age of 60. PV patients often exhibit elevated white blood cell and platelet counts as well as an enlarged spleen.
What are genetic mutations?
Many MPNs are characterized by the abnormal growth of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets – events that can be caused by genetic mutations.
In 2005, researchers discovered an important genetic mutation associated with the MPNs. Since then researchers have discovered additional mutations including the JAK2, CALR, TET2, and MPL gene markers.
Genetic Mutations and MPN Treatments
The discovery of genetic mutations has led to significant developments in the treatment of MPNs. For example, in the wake of identifying the JAK2 mutation, researchers and physicians have been able to inhibit the JAK2 gene with a variety of compounds including a JAK inhibitor which has been approved by the FDA as well as other drugs still being tested in clinical trials.
Research is ongoing to identify and explain genetic underpinnings for the cause of the MPNs. At the MPN Research Fund, our commitment to funding leading-edge research in the area of MPN genetic mutations and gene therapies is just one of the ways that we drive improved patient outcomes and carry out our mission to work tirelessly to change the prognosis for MPN patients and their families.
Treatments for MPNs
If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with an MPN, it’s important to know that blood cancer treatments have come a long way over the past decade, significantly improving the quality of life for MPN patients and their families. At the MPN Research Foundation, we’re proud to fund research that is leading to advances in treatment and ultimately, a cure for myelofibrosis (MF), essential thrombocythemia (ET) and polycythemia vera (PV). But just as importantly, we’re committed to helping patients and their families understand MPN treatments as well as the novel therapies, clinical trials and emerging treatments that are shaping the way we approach MPNs going forward.
There are a wide variety of treatments available for MPN sufferers based on the type of disease, the severity of symptoms and other variables:
Learn more about current clinical trials for the latest drugs to treat MPN symptoms.
Discover how to navigate drug reimbursements and the use of off-label prescriptions for blood cancer treatment.
Find a treatment facility that is right for you and can provide the appropriate treatment for your MPN symptoms.