MMRF Announces Second Year of Funding for Biotech-Focused Research Program to Advance Drug Development

Norwalk, CT — August 1, 2007
$6 million Allocated to Innovative Program

Today the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) announced the second annual call for applications to its innovative program, LEAD: Leveraging Existing myeloma targets to Accelerate Drug discovery and development. LEAD, the latest field-innovating program launched by the MMRF, brings together and fosters collaboration between myeloma experts in academia and the biotechnology industry to accelerate drug discovery and development for new treatments for myeloma. The MMRF has pledged up to $6 million USD to support multiple projects in this multi-year initiative.

The MMRF launched this program to address the challenges faced by small biotech companies in bringing new therapies to clinical trials, particularly in rare diseases like multiple myeloma. These challenges include access to myeloma tissue samples, access to disease relevant models and funding for scale up for testing in relevant myeloma models. Often, small companies must focus their limited resources on the largest patient markets. The LEAD Program will provide the resources needed for small companies to test promising agents in myeloma.

"Today, funding for preclinical research and early-stage clinical trials is extremely limited. As the world’s largest private funder of myeloma research, we identified funding for translational research as a critical barrier to bringing new treatments to patients and developed LEAD as a solution," said Kathy Giusti, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MMRF, as well as a myeloma patient. "Through this program, the MMRF is investing directly to biotechnology companies for this research that is not typically funded by NIH, private foundations, or venture capital firms."

The LEAD program launched in 2006 and has already awarded two multi-year, multi-million dollar grants. The recipients include Indianapolis-based Semafore Pharmaceuticals and an Israeli biotech company, ProChon. With the funding provided by the MMRF, Semafore is continuing its development of the P13 Kinase Inhibitor SF1126 while ProChon is advancing its PRO-001 compound.

"After the initial success of our first year, we recognized the need—not only to continue—but to expand our commitment to the LEAD program. These rare funding opportunities are vital to small companies as they embark on drug discovery and development" said Louise Perkins, Ph.D., the MMRF’s Director of Research.

Applications for the LEAD Program are due October 1, 2007. Funded programs will enter into contract agreements with the MMRF by December and will be held accountable to milestone-driven research efforts. For more complete program guidelines and an application form, please contact Carole Asher at asherc@www.themmrf.org.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is an incurable cancer of the plasma cell, with a fiveyear survival rate of only 32 percent — one of the lowest of all cancers. Approximately 50,000 people in the United States are living with multiple myeloma and an estimated 20,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Although the peak age of onset of multiple myeloma is 65 to 70 years of age, recent statistics suggest that incidence is increasing and at an earlier age.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was established in 1998 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti, a newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patient, with the unique mission of accelerating the search for a cure for multiple myeloma. Today, the MMRF is the largest non-profit foundation dedicated to the single mission of accelerating the search for a cure for multiple myeloma. As the world’s number one funder of myeloma research, the MMRF has raised more than $85 million to fund more than 200 research grants at more than 70 research institutions around the globe. Currently, the MMRF is funding more than 30 new compounds and approaches — in pre-clinical testing and Phase I, II and III clinical trials — that show promise in treating patients at all stages of the disease.

For more information, please visit www.themmrf.org.


Anne Quinn Young, MPH (MMRF)
T. 203-652-0212
E. quinnyounga@www.themmrf.org