April 19, 2009
What an incredible morning! It was an unbelievable honor to be recognized with the AACR Centennial Award for our efforts to advance the delivery of new treatments and, eventually, a cure for multiple myeloma. I was so proud to accept the award from AACR President Dr. Raymond DuBois and from AACR CEO Dr. Margaret Foti, who I deeply admire and consider a dear friend, and on behalf of the AACR, for all of their amazing work. I am truly humbled to follow in the footsteps of last year’s recipient Lance Armstrong, one of cancer’s greatest heroes, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow honorees, the founders of Stand Up to Cancer and Nick Valvano of the V Foundation.
When I started the MMRF and, later, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC), I knew we had a lot of work ahead of us and many challenges that would slow our progress. But from the start, I had amazing support. This award is a truly testament to the willingness of everyone to work together to break down barriers slowing multiple myeloma research and to do whatever it takes to bring patients the treatments they urgently need.
I am so thankful for the MMRF team’s phenomenal dedication and our extraordinary donors, who inspire us with their generosity and who are behind us every step of the way. I would like to thank Drs. Ken Anderson, Bill Dalton, Rafael Fonseca, and Keith Stewart, who were instrumental in helping to create the MMRC, and the many other talented researchers who share our commitment to innovation, speed, and results. Thanks, too, to Celgene and Millennium for their extraordinary commitment to develop new and better treatments. Finally, I am grateful to the many wonderful clinicians and nurses, whose compassionate care has made a world of difference for myeloma patients, and especially to the patients themselves, who advance research by participating in clinical trials and donating tissue to our Tissue Bank, and who inspire us to work harder, smarter, and faster.
Together, we have come so far. The AACR Centennial Award not only validates our work but help continue to bring awareness to the disease so that we can continue our work to bring patients the next generation of treatments and combination therapies.
April 19, 2009
Greetings from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in Denver, Colorado! This annual gathering is the most important cancer research meeting in the US, bringing together tens of thousands of research scientists and clinical researchers from around the world, with expertise in many different types of cancer, including multiple myeloma.
In addition to the scientific updates that will be presented over the next few days, one critical aspect from this convocation is the chance to meet with colleagues to explore innovative ideas and new approaches. Several of us from the MMRF and MMRC capitalized on this opportunity to solidify existing and build new partnerships with biopharma companies to accelerate more treatments into myeloma clinical trials in the fastest possible timeframe.
Why is it so important to meet and work with these industry colleagues? Because they have the new drugs that could represent the next generation of myeloma therapies! So, to ensure the most promising are tested in multiple myeloma, several us from MMRF (Joan Levy, Dan Cortright, Daniel Auclair and I) met with 8 companies over the span of 15 hours on Saturday. What did we learn and what was achieved? The MMRF and MMRC are clearly recognized as leaders among cancer non-profit foundations. This reputation set the stage for the meaningful discussions we had. The resulting innovative ideas may leverage the core strengths of the MMRF/MMRC but also depend on new models to prioritize, fund, and implement trials in this evolving field.
It’s hard to describe the level of enthusiasm apparent from many of the company representatives we met. For the most part, they clearly understand why the MMRF/C is such a special organization and how we are so well suited to advance new treatments into clinical trials. They know that we are working for our patients and that it is in everyone’s best interest to cooperate because speedy trials mean drugs get to patients, a common goal for all of us.
April 13, 2009
Congratulations to Kenny Perry for an outstanding game at the Masters Golf Tournament and many thanks for his efforts to raise multiple myeloma awareness. Kenny wore the MMRF’s signature teal bracelet throughout the tournament to raise multiple myeloma awareness in honor of his mother, Mildred, who is living with the disease.
On behalf of families like Kenny’s, we will continue our urgent work to bring new treatments to patients and to stand as the premier educational and informational resource for patients and caregivers living with the disease.
Click here to see pictures of Kenny during the Masters Golf Tournament.
Kenny Perry Photo #1
Kenny Perry Photo #2
March 1, 2009
The proceedings on Day 3 of this 4 day meeting were just as energetic as the prior two days. The general scientific sessions and abstract presentations started at 6:30 in the morning and ran through 6:30 in the evening. It is quite gratifying to see over 1,200 scientific researchers and clinicians discussing data, sharing research results and challenging each other to ensure that the most important questions to be addressed in multiple myeloma receive attention. Among the important scientific sessions today, was a presentation by the Consensus Panels of the International Myeloma Working Group. These three Consensus groups reached out to a total of over 150 experts in multiple myeloma worldwide, through a series of meetings and teleconferences. Three areas of myeloma diagnosis and treatment were addressed and three reports have been generated. The reports are available on the IMW website and will be published in a major medical journal later this year.
Guidelines for the Uniform Reporting of Clinical Trials in Myeloma: this report presents a standard approach for clinical trials to evaluate new treatments in myeloma, including standard definitions of patient populations, types of clinical data to be collected on a trial, and how to present the results of a trial, so that the findings across important trials may be interpreted consistently. View guidelines http://www.mw-delhi09.com/spargoDocs/Consensuspanelone.pdf
· Guidelines for Risk Stratification in Myeloma: The committee members stressed that, currently, to mandate definitive treatment according to cytogenetic abnormalities is premature. Additional randomized prospective studies are needed to validate the relationship of particular risk factors to treatment outcome or to assign patients with specific cytogenetic (chromosomal) abnormalities to specific treatment regimens. Instead, these guidelines provide a suggested set of risk factors that can be evaluated to help assess prognosis. View guidelines http://www.mw-delhi09.com/spargoDocs/Consensuspaneltwo.pdf
· Guidelines for Standard Investigative Work Up in Myeloma (Diagnosis and Staging): The standard procedures (laboratory and clinical tests) that should be conducted at the time of initial diagnosis and at subsequent relapse or disease progression have been agreed and outlined. View guidelines http://www.mw-delhi09.com/spargoDocs/Consensuspanelthree.pdf
In another session there was a presentation of viewpoints from myeloma experts in the US, Italy and France regarding the approaches to timing and type of bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant in myeloma. Dr. M. Cavo from Italy reminded the audience of the favorable 20-30% Complete Response rates being reported with use of the newer therapies (lenalinomide and/ or bortezimib combination therapy) in the treatment of newly diagnosed myeloma. There are important questions to be answered in upcoming studies, regarding the timing of ASCT (stem cell transplant) in patients who may derive good, durable response after 4-5 cycles of treatment with the newer treatment regimens.
February 28, 2009
Day two of the XIIth IMW represented the transition day from a predominant focus on basic science and translational research to clinical data. The first clinical session of the day included representatives from 5 countries discussing recent and planned cooperative group Phase III clinical trials in each of their countries. Cooperative group trials are government organized and run, with industry funding and/or drug support provided in most cases. These trials tend to address questions that require data with long-term follow-up, such as: What is the optimal induction regimen prior to high-dose therapy and stem cell transplant? Is it better to combine three or four drugs upfront or sequence them? What is the value of a stem cell transplant in the age of novel therapies? What is the role of maintenance therapy? And so on.
Past cooperative group trials have addressed questions like the value of a second (consecutive) transplant; superiority of MP plus novel agents vs MP alone for newly diagnosed, transplant ineligible patients; optimal dosing of dexamethasone in combination with Revlimid (lenalidomide) for first-line therapy; and the role of Thalomid (thalidomide) as maintenance therapy.
What was striking about the planned trials from the various groups was their complementary nature. Many of the questions mentioned above have been addressed in countries such as France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK, where participation in clinical trials is often upwards of 50% of patients. With so many possible combinations and sequences, and so many critical late stage trials underway in the U.S. to address these questions, it is important for patients to participate in clinical trials. Otherwise, progress in the field will be slowed. To find a trial that is right for you or your loved one, call 866-603-MMCT (6628) or visit www.myelomatrials.org.
There were also many presentations of data related to novel investigational treatments in early stage (Phase I and II) clinical trials. Nine of these were from MMRC-supported trials! These new trials can be loosely broken into three groups: trials involving treatments that are already FDA-approved for other indications, eg, Zolinza (vorinostat) and Torisel (temsirolimus) and could be prescribed off-label for MM; investigational treatments (not FDA approved for any use) that represent second generation proteasome inhibitors such carfilzomib and NPI-0052 or pomalidomide, a new IMiD; and novel treatments that hit new targets such as perifosine or elotuzumab. But, with so many exciting new treatments, without increased clinical trial participation, we won’t know which are truly promising. Therefore, at any time in your disease – from first-line therapy to multiple relapses – it is critically important to consider a clinical trial.
Stay tuned for more clinical trials data in tomorrow’s report from IMW as well as new data from medical meetings in the spring including ASCO.