| Sept 24
Sept 24 Multiple myeloma research advocates on
Tuesday will begin providing open Internet access to genetic and
research data on hundreds of patients in hopes of speeding the
development of new treatments for the deadly blood cancer.
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation's (MMRF) Researcher
Gateway, a $40 million program funded by the foundation and drug
company partners, will give researchers around the world access
to information, such as specific patient gene mutations
associated with the disease and how patients respond to
That could help identify biological targets for future
medicines, hasten enrollment in studies by finding the right
patients for the trials and enhance researcher collaboration.
"This data is going to be precious for academic (research)
centers, community centers and our pharma partners," said Kathy
Giusti, a pharmaceutical industry veteran who co-founded MMRF in
1998, two years after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma and
given a three-year survival prognosis.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, Johnson & Johnson,
Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co and Onyx
Pharmaceuticals Inc, which is being acquired by Amgen
Inc, have signed on as co-sponsors.
Several top hospital and academic cancer research centers,
including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston; Mayo Clinic in
Minnesota; University of California, San Francisco; Emory
University in Atlanta, and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York are
on board as well, MMRF said.
At the heart of the program is a multi-year study dubbed
Commpass in which researchers hope to enroll 1,000 newly
diagnosed multiple myeloma patients by the end of next year and
closely monitor them over the course of the disease. There are
already more than 300 patients providing data in the trial,
The study has 50 centers in the United States and Europe
enrolling patients with all those involved having promised to
openly share data via the Researcher Gateway portal, Giusti
said. All patients in the study have agreed to have their
genetic information and treatment responses included.
The Commpass study aims to provide far more information than
is possible from current cancer tissue banks that typically
include one sample per patient.
"We wanted tissue from when the patient had been newly
diagnosed when there was no treatment yet," Giusti said. Bone
marrow samples will again be taken and genetically sequenced
when each patient goes into remission and each time they
relapse, explained Giusti, who is currently in remission.
"There is going to be new information generated there that
you would never get unless you followed patients through first
relapse and second relapse and beyond," said George Mulligan,
director of translational medicine for Millennium
Pharmaceuticals, Takeda's oncology unit.
"The size of it in patient numbers and the breadth and
richness of it on a biological level, it's going to grow over
time and mushroom into something that's going to be really
special," Millennium's Mulligan predicted.
About 86,000 patients are diagnosed with multiple myeloma
worldwide each year - about 20,000 in the United States - and
there are some 220,000 cases worldwide.
"There's probably at least 10 subtypes of myeloma. Within
each patient we have several types of myeloma cells and when we
relapse there's an abundance of mutations, over 50 typically,"
Giusti explained. "You really have to understand the myeloma
subtypes and find the right combination of drugs for each
The model created for Gateway Researcher could be applicable
for several other types of cancer and provide biological clues
to similarities among patients with different cancers.
"The whole goal is to allow researchers to go on line, to
look at the Commpass data ... and to be able to share that data
with each other," the MMRF CEO said.
"The point is for them to generate hypotheses from the data
that they're seeing, and our goal is to drive that hypothesis to
the clinic where they can do trials," Giusti said.