MMRF Immune Summit 2019

On March 4 and 5, 2019, leaders from academia and biotech and pharmaceutical industries, as well as our Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC), gathered at the MMRF headquarters in Norwalk, CT to kick off the MMRF Immune Summit 2019.

The objectives of the Immune Summit were to share our innovative three-year strategic plan, identify collaborative partners who can help us drive the plan forward, and solicit ideas and support for new strategic programs in immunotherapy, which is one of the three pillars of the plan.

The Immune Summit began the process of executing the plan. The science of immunotherapy is exploding with promise; it is the most exciting area in multiple myeloma. We and our partners are eager to harness the science and learn how to individualize and target new therapies for multiple myeloma patients.

Our Founder and Chief Mission Officer, Kathy Giusti talks with our partners about turning our strategic plan into action.


During the two-day meeting the gathered leaders discussed the following key priorities:

Building an Immune Atlas

Hearn Cho, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Madhav Dhodapka, MBBS, Emory University School of Medicine

The current methods in immune profiling for myeloma vary and lack standardization, which slows the advancement of immune therapies. This gap, however, is an opportunity for us to create coherent immune data requirements and guidelines and to establish a single shared repository for data.

Our Immune Atlas program will use state-of-the-art technology to map out the interplay between tumor cells and immune cells in the bone marrow microenvironment in myeloma patients. This effort will result in a database of biomarkers that will be actively maintained and expanded as new research is added. This information will identify new targets for drug development and eventually enable clinicians to customize treatments and therapies that will work best with individuals’ immune systems.

“The MMRF plays a critical role in the creation of the Immune Atlas because there is no other entity that can bring together the academic medical centers, the pharmaceutical partners, and also bring the network of patients that are looking for new immune therapies and want to participate both in clinical trials and clinical research such as the Immune Atlas” said Hearn Jay Cho, MD, PhD, at Mount Sinai in New York.


Driving Clinical Acceleration

David Avigan, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Paul Richardson, MD, Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Current immunotherapy clinical trials in myeloma are fragmented. Typically, they are conducted with a small patient population and a single drug against a control population. This model is far too slow and inefficient.

The MMRF aspires to improve efficiencies in immune-oncology studies. We will expand immunotherapy-related clinical trials, including a new immune-based platform trial called MyImmune. MyImmune will allow us a cocktail of approaches to manipulate patients’ immune systems to fight myeloma and will help us to better understand individual patients’ immune responses.

Other trials will be launched in partnership with leading industry pharmaceutical firms and via targeted grants for MMRF immune-oncology fellows at academic medical centers.

“Immune therapy provides a more targeted approach to the immune system that together with cellular components has the promise of improving outcomes dramatically” said Dr. Paul Richardson, Clinical Program Leader and Director of Clinical Research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute for the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center.


Focusing on Early Prevention

Irene Ghobrial, MD, Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Shaji Kumar, MD, Mayo Clinic Rochester

The MMRF is pursuing the question of how we can use immunotherapy in prevention and how to build the knowledge to change the standard of care for myeloma precursors. The current standard of care for early-stage (smoldering) multiple myeloma is careful observation for progression into full myeloma. However, we have limited knowledge about how to segment or treat people based on their risk of progression. We also have no precise data about how these patients should be classified in terms of risk, how they should be treated, and how we should define success in their treatment.

The MMRF Prevention Project aims to collect data through large-scale patient registries to help develop answers to these key questions and translate the findings to the clinic.

“The MMRF has been integral in discovering the first genomic changes that happened in multiple myeloma and they have created the best cohort that we have, the CoMMpass study, gives us information not only for physicians and patients but for researchers providing collaboration and interaction with each other” said Irene Ghobrial, MD, Professor of Medicine at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.


Our Partners
Mayo Clinic Rochester
Mayo Clinic Scottsdale
Massachusetts General Hospital
University of Chicago Medicine
The Ohio State University Medical Center
Amgen, Inc.
Genentech, Inc.
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd.
GlaxoSmithKline plc
Karyopharm Therapeutics
Celgene Corporation
TeneoBio, Inc.
Unum Therapeutics
Adaptive Biotechnologies
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Emory University School of Medicine
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Harvard Business School
Harvard Medical School
University of California San Francisco Health
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Levine Cancer Institute – Atrium Health
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center
City of Hope National Medical Center
Michigan School of Medicine, University of Michigan
Washington University in St. Louis
University of Texas Southwestern