All of the four new genetic variants are close to genes which are likely to play important roles in causing myeloma.
Study co-leader Professor Richard Houlston, Professor of Molecular and Population Genetics at The Institute of Cancer Research, said:
"Our study has taken an important step forward in understanding the genetics of myeloma, and suggested an intriguing potential link with a gene that acts as a cell's internal timer.
"We know cancer often seems to ignore the usual controls over ageing and cell death, and it will be fascinating to explore whether in blood cancers that is a result of a direct genetic link. Eventually, understanding the complex genetics of blood cancers should allow us to assess a person's risk or identify new avenues for treatment."
In people affected by myeloma, white blood cells called plasma cells grow uncontrollably in the bone marrow and become stuck there, disrupting normal blood production. It can be very painful, and affects bones in multiple parts of the body.
Professor Chris Bunce, Research Director at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said:
"The identification of these risk gene variants offers more compelling evidence that susceptibility to myeloma can be inherited. Myeloma remains incurable and the effect on patients' quality of life can be devastating.
"By showing how these specific genes influence the cancer's development, this research could potentially lead to the development of targeted myeloma drugs in the future. In addition we know that a common condition called MGUS predisposes to the development of myeloma. The identification of additional genetic risk factors in these patients could revolutionise their future management and prospects."
Heather McKinnon, Clinical Research Programme Manager for Myeloma UK,, said:
"We are delighted the original study funded by Myeloma UK
|Contact: Henry French|
Institute of Cancer Research