May 4, 2011

MMRF and MMRC Report from IMW, Sandra Wear

Greetings from the XIIIth International Myeloma Workshop in Paris! The meeting kicked off on Tuesday with presentations on the biology and genetics of myeloma as well as bone diease, followed by the opening ceremony and presentation of the prestigious Waldenstrom’s Award. Overall, there continue to be advancements with regards to the understanding of cell biology in multiple myeloma; however, understanding classifications of various subtypes is still evolving. In the end, each one of us is unique and therefore will require tailored therapies. In this regard, the importance of focusing on mechanisms of various cytokines and mTOR pathways were highlighted. The MMRC is currently examining a novel mTOR (TORC-1 and TORC-2 inhibitor) with the INK 128 trial currently in Phase 1 and enrolling.

There was some interesting news for patients in the evolving field of bone disease. There were detailed presentations on the synergies between HDAC, HDACi and Velcade/Revlimid combination therapy (Zolinza (vorinostat)/Velcade in particular). We’re learning that there are synergistic effects on the ability to ‘turn on’ the osteoblasts (bone building cell mechanism) which in turn has negative effect on the myeloma tumor cells. In normal biology, we’re constantly building and deconstructing bone. Like the skin, the old is sloughed off to make way for the new. In multiple myeloma, the osteoclasts go into overdrive and break down more bone than normal. In myeloma, it’s thought that by healing the bones, the environment in which tumor cells thrive becomes less hospitable and this may have the additive effect of “flushing the fox out of the hole”. Clearly this frontier, although not entirely new with the introduction of biphosphonates back in the 90s, warrants more advanced research.

The MMRF was acknowledged by several speakers for the funding we’ve provided to support their work. Walter Capone, our COO, gave a comprehensive overview of the MMRF and MMRC highlighting all of our  funding to date and clear stewardship of the funds we raise. Michael Kuehl, PhD, an old friend of the MMRF and myeloma community, deservedly received the Waldenstrom’s award and specifically highlighted Kathy Giusti, citing her for the enormous contribution she’s made to MM genomics and in particular, the recent Nature paper that detailed the genome sequencing of samples from the MMRC tissue bank as part of the MMRF’s Genomics Initiative. Stay tuned – busy day ahead and I look forward to sharing the updates with you.