POEMS Syndrome

Investigators: Ji Qiu, Ph.D.

Collaborators: Rafael Fonseca, M.D. (Mayo Clinic)

Disease Background

Who gets it?
What are the symptoms?
How do we detect it now?
How is it currently treated?
What are the current challenges?
  • POEMS is a rare blood disorder that affects multiple body systems and causes nerve damage
  • Characteristics include Polyneuropathy (nerve damage causing numbness in extremities), Organomegaly (organ enlargement), Endocrinopathy (abnormal hormone levels), M-protein (an abnormal immunoglobulin) and Skin abnormalities
  • POEMS is most often diagnosed in adults over 50
  • Standard treatments a varied and can include treatment with corticosteroids, stem-cell transplantation, and/or chemotherapy
  • If untreated, the disease is progressive and fatal
  • It is not known what causes POEMS
  • It is difficult to diagnose due to the wide array of symptoms and rarity of the disease
  • Because the cause is not known, targeted therapies cannot be developed


Our Approach

Because of the possibly connection between the immune system and POEMS syndrome, we sought to identify autoantibodies reactive in the blood of POEMS patients. In an ongoing project, we have been using the NAPPA protein array technology to identify biomarkers for this disease with the goal of it helping us better understand the cause of POEMS and develop targeted treatments for this disease.