MMRF Answer Fund
MMRF Awards $5 Million to Address Important Questions Facing the Multiple Myeloma Community.
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) is investing $5 million over the next three years in a new initiative titled “The MMRF Answer Fund,” a multifaceted effort addressing important questions facing the multiple myeloma community and advancing precision medicine. The Answer Fund will leverage data from the landmark MMRF CoMMpass© study, which is the largest collection of genomic data of any cancer, tracking more than 1,100 myeloma patients over eight years. With its unique two-pronged approach, the MMRF Answer Fund was the subject of a case study in the Harvard Business School HBx Initiative.
Phase I of the Answer Fund project will support research around high-risk myeloma. One of the most urgent questions facing the multiple myeloma community is how to define and treat high-risk patients. The MMRF has made two awards of up to $1M each to teams of researchers who will use data from CoMMpass to identify and gain a better scientific understanding of genomic drivers of high-risk myeloma. This understanding will lead to earlier and more accurate identification of high-risk patients, accelerate the discovery of new therapeutics for these patients, and will aid in the optimization of treatment regimens to improve outcomes for this patient population.
Phase II of the Answer Fund involved a crowdsourcing effort which included the entire myeloma community. Patients, health care providers, and researchers were asked to provide their opinion on which question in myeloma treatment is the most pressing to answer immediately. Several hundred suggestions were received from the community; results revealed that questions around maintenance therapy were deemed the most important to answer. Accordingly, in Phase II the MMRF aims to fund research which will leverage CoMMpass data to evaluate the efficacy of maintenance therapy, including which maintenance therapy to use and how long to maintain treatment to provide for optimal patient outcomes, based on specific genomic signatures. Phase II awardees will be announced at a later date.
Answer Fund Awards
Phase I awardees:
Constantine Mitsiades, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Medicine, at Harvard Medical School and Assistant Professor in Medicine, Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Project title: “Leveraging CRISPR and CoMMpass Data to Validate Genes Driving High-Risk Multiple Myeloma”
This group of researchers, from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of Florida, Emory University, and the Translational Genomics Institute (TGen), and led by Dr. Mitsiades, will use data from CoMMpass to identify genes that may be associated with high risk myeloma. They will then utilize CRISPR technology to validate function of those genes in mouse models, and test the drug resistance potential among these genes.
Professor and Vice Chair for Basic Research, Hematology, and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine, and Co-Leader, Cancer Cell Biology Program, at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.
Project title: “Transcriptional Dysregulation in High Risk Myeloma”
TGen, and led by Dr. Boise will leverage data from the CoMMpass study to evaluate a high risk gene pattern seen in some patients who relapse within 12 to 18 months after treatment. They will investigate whether this pattern, associated specifically with IgL translocation, might be used to predict which patients are high risk at the time of diagnosis, and whether this gene pattern may offer a novel target for therapeutic intervention in high-risk disease.