The Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC) has announced the launch of the Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative, a research program designed to accelerate progress made against multiple myeloma by improving the understanding of the biology of the disease.
Spearheaded by the MMRC, and in collaboration with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative focuses on cancer genomics, opening a front in the battle against multiple myeloma.
"The Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative underscores the critical role that scientific advances and new genomics technologies play in the fight against myeloma," said Kathy Giusti, founder and chief executive officer of the MMRC.
"This unprecedented research program will fundamentally improve our understanding of myeloma, which will prove invaluable in future efforts to develop better, more effective treatments for the disease."
The Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative's research and discovery programs hinge on the ability to study, analyze, and characterize a large number of untreated myeloma patient tissue samples in great detail.
This kind of research has been made possible only recently with the development of the MMRC Tissue Bank.
With hundreds of patient tissue samples now accrued under GLP standards into the MMRC Tissue Bank, and ongoing accrual at sites nationwide, researchers for the first time have access to the critical mass of tissue necessary to start this important genomic initiative.
"The MMRC has set a standard for all cancer research through its funding of this initiative and its unparalleled Tissue Bank of multiple myeloma samples," said Todd Golub, MD, director of the cancer program at the Broad Institute.
"We can now build a molecular understanding of this disease, the critical first step towards effective treatment."
"We expect that findings from the Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative will lead to the discovery of new druggable targets for myeloma and, ultimately, to the development of better, more effective therapies that are active against these targets," said Jeffrey Trent, PhD, president and scientific director of TGen.
Bringing together the Broad Institute and TGen's computational biology and genomics technology capabilities with the MMRC's unrivaled expertise in the clinical and biological aspects of myeloma, the Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative takes a collaborative, systematic approach to mapping the myeloma genome.
Over the course of three years, the MMRC will coordinate and fund the Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative's several related research and discovery programs that span the spectrum of genomic science.
These programs include gene expression profiling to determine what genes and molecular pathways play a role in the onset and progression of myeloma; genome copy number and loss of heterozygosity analyses to better understand of the biology of myeloma and how the disease behaves; and efforts to pinpoint the "Achilles Heels" of myeloma - genes that are essential for myeloma cell survival and those which may represent therapeutic targets for myeloma.
Findings from the Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative will be made accessible to the academic and commercial world via pre-publications and key learnings will be directly communicated to the scientific community to aid researchers pursuing genome mapping in other cancers.