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October 16, 2013

IU cancer physician bikes for multiple myeloma research

An Indiana University cancer physician scientist biked 225 miles over the weekend, raising more than $200,000 for multiple myeloma research.

Rafat Abonour, M.D., professor of medicine and of pathology and laboratory medicine at the IU School of Medicine and a researcher at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, wrapped up his ninth annual Miles for Myeloma in downtown Indianapolis late last month.

He and a group of fellow cyclists began in Niles, Mich., the day before. The route this year took the bikers to South Bend, LaPorte and Monticello before ending in Indianapolis.

Since 2005, Abonour has taken on a grueling ride — and sometimes a bike ride plus a long-distance run — to raise funds and awareness of multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer.

In all, he has biked and run more than 1,500 miles and raised more than $2 million for research at the IU Simon Cancer Center.

Abonour and his fellow myeloma experts at the IU Simon Cancer Center are exploring how the marrow microenvironment and myeloma patients’ abnormal immune systems contribute to tumor growth, bone destruction, and chemotherapy resistance.

A person with myeloma, according to Abonour, is typically around 60 years old. The cancer accumulates in bone marrow, weakening the bones and causing osteoporosis, anemia, and kidney failure. Myeloma also leaves people susceptible to infections because their immune system has been weakened.

“We have to do more for people diagnosed with myeloma,” Abonour said in a press release. “It’s so disheartening that we can’t cure these people. I think the mission is to find out why we can’t cure them — and change that.”

Miles for Myeloma history:

• 2013 Miles for Myeloma: 225 miles by bike from Niles, Mich., to Indianapolis;

• 2012 Miles for Myeloma: 185 miles by bike from Cincinnati to Indianapolis;

• 2011 Miles for Myeloma: Tours for Tomorrows: 200 miles by bike from Louisville to Indianapolis;

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