Since its founding in 2004, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC) has grown from a handful of member institutions to 16 such academic centers and has launched 38 phase I and phase II clinical trials. Six of the drugs studied in those investigations are currently in phase III trials. And those trials are launching 60% faster than comparable clinical trials in oncology, according to data from MMRC metrics, decreasing the amount of time from the development and finalization of a trial’s protocol design to patient enrollment by an average of 100 days.
In addition to initiating clinical studies, the MMRC has also established a tissue bank, which has accrued more than 3,500 samples from myeloma patients. Last year, scientists from the Broad Institute decoded the whole genomes and whole exomes of 38 multiple myeloma patients using tissue samples donated from the MMRC. The findings, published in Nature,1 revealed genes never before associated with cancer.
More Genomic Sequencing
The study also found that a small percentage of myeloma patients—just 4%—had BRAF V600E gene mutations, the same mutation found in some types of melanoma and colon cancer, which had been previously unknown in the development of multiple myeloma. Currently, the Broad Institute is completing the genomic sequencing of 250 additional multiple myeloma tumors with samples supplied from the MMRC tissue bank. Once sequencing is completed, scientists will analyze how the new genes discovered in myeloma contribute to disease onset and whether they represent new therapeutic targets.
Information on all current MMRC-launched clinical trials will be available later this year on the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium website at themmrc.org. Grant opportunities for researchers can be found at the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation website at themmrf.org, and data from the genomic study of multiple myeloma cells can be accessed through the MMRC Multiple Myeloma Genomics Portal at broadinstitute.org/mmgp/home. ■
1. Chapman MA, Lawrence MS, Keats JJ, et al: Initial genome sequencing and analysis of multiple myeloma. Nature 471:467-472, 2011.