December 9, 2009

Research Update from ASH - December 2009, Louise Perkins, PhD

Over the course of the last two days of the ASH meeting in New Orleans, there were quite a few scientific sessions and considerable excitement. In addition, a face-to-face meeting of the project team and Scientific Advisors to the Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative (MMGI) was held to discuss the current progress, challenges and plans for the project as it continues to develop a variety of data on the myeloma tumor genome. At the Presidential Symposium which wrapped up the meeting involved a presentation by one of the key contributors to the MMGI, Dr. Todd Golub of the Broad Institute as well as Dr. Louis Staudt of NCI who is both an advisor to the MMGI and a member of the MMRF Technology Board. Dr Staudt was also honored today by ASH as the recipient of the Dameshek prize for his contributions to the understanding of lymphoma. During this symposium, it was gratifying to hear Dr. Golub summarize some of the current achievements of the MMGI which now includes the successful sequencing of 25 myeloma patients’ tumor genomes. This project and the MMRF itself were featured on his first slide and he graciously recognized our organization for supporting this project. Dr. Timothy Ley from Washington University in St Louis also discussed leukemia genomics. He pointed out that sequencing of patient genomes is going to change medical care for patients and drive a future for personalized medicine – I wholeheartedly agree! New approaches to more sensitively detecting a patient's myeloma burden were also presented and these suggest that in the future it will be possible to use such readouts to determine whether a modified therapeutic approach will confer benefit by routinely aiming for so-called molecular responses. This is just one example of how we learn from other diseases and again exemplifies how personalized approaches are coming faster and faster to patients.