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As World Blood Cancer Day approaches Abingdon Health looks at blood cancers and how they manifest themselves. In addition, we examine how an assay developed for the quantification of kappa (K) and lambda (λ) immunoglobulin free light chains can aid the diagnosis and management of multiple myeloma.

World Blood Cancer Day was established to increase the awareness of the various types of blood cancers and to show solidarity with patients who suffer from these diseases. With this awareness, the hope is that there is continued support for research into improving the diagnosis, management and monitoring of patients, and of course to find a cure.

What is blood cancer?

Blood cancer is a term used to describe different types of cancer that affect the blood, bone marrow or lymphatic system. Blood cancers create systemic disease symptoms by interfering with the normal blood cell cycle of cell creation, differentiation, maturation and natural cell death.

How do blood cancers manifest themselves?

There are three main groups of blood cancers: Leukaemia (cancer of the white blood cells), Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) and Multiple Myeloma (cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow). Although, they are classed as different types of cancers there are some similar symptoms such as pain, lethargy and weight loss displayed by all three.

The function of plasma cells in the immune system is to produce antibodies (immunoglobulins) to defend against infection. Multiple Myeloma occurs when abnormal plasma cells multiply, producing and secreting antibody fragments called paraproteins into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Multiple Myeloma as yet. Abingdon Health has a focus on producing diagnostic tools to assist clinicians in the diagnosis, monitoring and management of Multiple Myeloma.

Diagnosis and management of Multiple Myeloma

The symptoms of Multiple Myeloma can sometimes be dismissed as just the aches and pains of normal life and can be confused with a range of other conditions making diagnosis problematic. Monoclonal κ and λ immunoglobulin free light chains (FLCs) are important markers for the diagnosis and monitoring of these disorders of the plasma cells, sometimes referred to as B-cell dyscrasias.

Manufacturing lateral flow devices and medical diagnostics

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This prompted Abingdon Health to develop a rapid assay, Seralite® – FLC* to detect and quantify kappa (K) and lambda (λ) FLCs utilising highly specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) identified by Campbell et al (2013)1.

Free light chain testing has historically been carried out using a variety of assays which can be cumbersome, include lengthy protocols, incur delays due to sending samples to external laboratories and result in interpretation issues. Following extensive research and development, Abingdon Health produced a rapid assay that combines a lateral flow device (Seralite® – FLC) with reader technology.

A recent publication confirmed the clinical utility of this lateral flow device that “sensitively quantitates FLC and rapidly identifies clinical conditions where FLC are abnormal, including multiple myeloma” (Campbell et al 2016)2.

Abingdon Health continues to research and develop diagnostic tools to aid clinicians in the management of myeloma.

1. Campbell et al. Journal of Immunological Methods. 2013; 391: 1-13
2. Campbell et al. Clin Chem Lab Med 2016-0194

*Not available for sale in the USA