NORWALK, Conn.—The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation(MMRF) recently announced a multi-year oncology research partnership withseveral partners including the Translational Genomics Research Institute(TGen), Spectrum Health and the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). Thecollaboration will provide a broad range of genomic services and analyses tohelp drive the success of a landmark 1,000-patient study on the molecularsegments and variation of multiple myeloma which has been launched by the MMRF.
Under the agreement, TGen will provide a central hub wherepatient samples will be analyzed using an unprecedented breadth of genomicsplatforms. The data to emerge from this work will provide the mostcomprehensive view of myeloma at the molecular level and will enable theresearch community to better understand what drives a patient's response totreatment or disease progression and will also generate new leads for targeteddrug development.
The MMRF began enrolling patients in the landmark studyRelating Clinical Outcomes in MM to Personal Assessment of GeneticProfile—known as CoMMpass—last year through a network of academic and communityclinical centers. Study participants will provide an initial tissue sample atthe time at which they are newly diagnosed, and will provide follow-up tissuesamples at the time of first and additional relapse. Sequential analysis of thesetissue samples will shed new light on the relationship between molecularvariation and patients' response or resistance to therapy.
"We are proud to support the MMRF's unparalleled researchinitiative, which has tremendous potential to make a significant difference inthe way multiple myeloma is treated," said Dr. John Carpten, professor anddirector of TGen's Integrated Cancer Genomics division, in a statement. "Therigor and breadth of this effort will enable a much more sophisticatedunderstanding of the molecular changes that give rise to myeloma, and thataffect a patient's course of disease. We believe the collective data to emergealong the way will provide an invaluable resource for innovators to design thenext significant breakthroughs against this incurable disease."
Analyses during the study will also apply and build oninsights from the Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative (MMGI) sequencingproject to identify specific subgroups of multiple myeloma patients. Forexample, the study will involve sequencing tissue samples using techniquesperfected in the MMGI and will test for mutations activating the BRAF gene,which were found in a small percentage of multiple myeloma patients in thesequencing project.
"We are excited to build on our earlier partnership withTGen. Their dedicated commitment to multiple myeloma genomic research andearlier achievements will play a critical role in the success of thisinitiative," said Dr. Louise M. Perkins, chief scientific officer at the MMRF."The strong collaboration of academia, the clinical community and industry inthis landmark project will enable us to translate new information into improvedtreatment approaches more efficiently and effectively than ever before."
TGen will be working with VARI to centrally collect andstore tissue samples and extract DNA and RNA from samples for next-generationsequencing analysis including whole-genome and RNA-sequencing. Using theProgram for Biospecimen Science and its biorepository at VARI, Dr. ScottJewell's program will use collection and biobanking best practices to centrallymanage the collection and biobanking for this study. VARI will process thespecimens, isolate the cancer cell population and prepare derivatives forgenomic analysis at TGen. VARI will use the VARI/TGen bioinventory software toassist in the tracking and management of the biospecimens throughout the lifeof the project.
Spectrum Health, which is accredited by the College ofAmerican Pathology and is also a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments(CLIA) laboratory, will provide the BRAF gene analysis and a flow cytometricimmunophenotype of each patient's myeloma using state-of-the art analytics inits clinical diagnostics laboratory.
"We are very excited to be a partner in this effort to determinehow to conquer this disease," said Lisa A. Shannon, chief operating officer ofSpectrum Health Grand Rapids. "This is very important research and we are proudto lend our expertise and experience to the effort. Partnerships like thisexpand the opportunity for success in conquering diseases like multiplemyeloma."
This study is currently enrolling patients at clinicalcenters throughout the United States.