The Initiative builds collaborative Myeloma Immune Networks of Excellence to accelerate precision immunotherapy approaches for myeloma patients.
NORWALK, Conn., March 27, 2018
Today, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) announced that, as part of its $15M Immunotherapy Initiative, it has awarded $7M in funding to three ground-breaking research programs led by renowned myeloma researchers. The Immunotherapy Initiative leverages the MMRF’s innovative end-to-end precision medicine model to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate treatment based on their specific characteristics.
“We are thrilled to award funding to these three world-class teams whose innovative projects show great promise in advancing the potential of precision immunotherapy to extend patients’ lives,” said Paul Giusti, President and Chief Executive Officer of the MMRF. “To date, precision medicine has largely been driven by genomic approaches, and our goal is to ensure that patients receive optimal treatment based on their individual genomic and immune characteristics. These exciting programs advance the latest in immunotherapy, such as vaccines and CAR T-cell therapy, which are approaches that will undoubtedly increase our momentum towards precision medicine and a cure for every patient.”
The Immunotherapy Initiative, through the formation of highly collaborative, multidisciplinary Immune Networks of Excellence, will advance our understanding of the immune system in myeloma progression, identify and characterize changes in the patient’s immune system that occur during disease progression and therapy, and develop novel immune therapies for multiple myeloma treatment. In total, the MMRF is investing $15 million over three years to the initiative.
The principal investigators and their projects, each of which will include several additional sites in the US and internationally, are as follows:
- David Avigan, MD: “Combined Chimeric Antigen Receptor Therapy (CAR-T) and Active Immunization”
Dr. Avigan is a Professor of Medicine and the Section Chief of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Hematologic Malignancies at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. This project will focus on the development and advancement of novel immune therapy (drug) combinations of CAR-T and personalized vaccines into clinical trials and the identification of factors that predict patient response or resistance to immune therapy.
- Ivan Borrello, MD: “Dissecting Immune Regulation and Dysfunction within the Bone Marrow Microenvironment”
Dr. Borrello is an Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at John Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Medical Director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. This project seeks to understand the role that the patient’s immune system and tumor bone marrow microenvironment play in disease progression, especially in high risk myeloma and resistance to immunotherapy. The data will be used to develop an immune cell scoring system to predict patient response to immune therapies.
- Ola Landgren, MD: “Defining Optimal Tumor and Host Signatures for Immunotherapy of Myeloma”
Dr. Landgren is the Chief Attending Physician of Myeloma Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. This project is a detailed characterization of the genetic, protein and serological features in patients and their tumors to identify factors predictive of their response to immune therapy and to identify new therapy targets.
Each proposal addresses different, yet equally critical questions in myeloma biology. The winning proposals were selected after peer review by recognized experts in immunology and myeloma research.
Pending a successful completion of this first phase of funding, the second phase of this Initiative will translate the findings from these projects into novel immune clinical trials.
About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cell. It is the second most common blood cancer. An estimated 30,000 adults will be diagnosed this year and 12,600 people are predicted to die from the disease.
About the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
The mission of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) is to find a cure for multiple myeloma by relentlessly pursuing innovation that accelerates the development of next-generation treatments to extend the lives of patients. Founded in 1998 by Kathy Giusti, a multiple myeloma patient, and her twin sister Karen Andrews as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, the MMRF is a world-recognized leader in cancer research. Together with its partners, the MMRF has created the only end-to-end solution in precision medicine and the single largest genomic dataset in all cancers. The MMRF continues to disrupt the industry today, as a pioneer and leader at the helm of new research efforts. Since its inception, the organization has raised over $400 million and directs nearly 90% of the total funds to research and related programs. To learn more, visit www.staging.thmmrf.org.
Anne Quinn Young, MPH
Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)