The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Create Unprecedented Private/Public Partnership to Advance the Development of Personalized Medicine

Landmark CoMMpassSM Study Expands to Include VA Sites with Broad, Diverse Population of Multiple Myeloma Patients

Norwalk, CT and Washington, D.C. — November 26, 2012

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced an unprecedented public/private partnership to accelerate the development of Personalized Medicine for multiple myeloma. Through a novel Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), the VA will collaborate with the MMRF on the CoMMpassSM (Relating Clinical Outcomes in MM to Personal Assessment of Genetic Profile) study to speed the progression to targeted treatment approaches for multiple myeloma.

The first of its kind in multiple myeloma, the MMRF CoMMpass study, which was launched last year, will follow 1,000 newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients over a minimum of five years  to understand the molecular and genetic changes underpinning the evolution of the disease. Sequential tissue sampling during the study will help to identify how a patient’s molecular profile may affect his or her clinical progression and individual response to treatment, with the goal of facilitating future clinical trials and personalized treatment strategies based on the resulting information database. In order to facilitate discoveries and development related to targeted therapies, the comprehensive and extraordinarily rich data from CoMMpass will be placed in an unprecedented, open-access research portal. More than 200 patients have been screened to date and there are more than 50 centers currently participating.

“The MMRF CoMMpass study has been designed to provide a unique opportunity for advancing our knowledge of this form of cancer, through a comprehensive tracking and analysis of patient based medical treatments and clinical data.  There is tremendous promise and optimism that our combined efforts will result in vastly improved understandings of how multiple myeloma can be better managed, resulting in better outcomes for patients and their families,” said Shanti Srinivas, M.D., Staff Physician and Principal Investigator for the MMRF CoMMpass study at the VA New Jersey Health Care System in East Orange, NJ.

“This critical partnership with the VA reflects our strong commitment to creating public access to cutting-edge scientific data and engaging the widest scientific community possible in the discovery process,” said Walter M. Capone, Chief Operating Officer of the MMRF. “The participation of the VA in the MMRF CoMMpass study ensures that we are capturing a truly diverse and representative population of multiple myeloma patients that will better inform the development of hypotheses for targeted treatment approaches for this extremely heterogeneous disease.”

The first of the VA centers, the Washington DC VA Medical Center and the East Orange Campus of the VA New Jersey Health Care System, have joined the nationwide network of clinical sites participating in CoMMpass. These centers provide access to patients currently managed within the VA system, many of whom are not normally involved in clinical trials and represent an important segment of the population from both a research and treatment perspective.

“Participating in this important research endeavor with the MMRF is a key opportunity to contribute to the growing body of research in multiple myeloma. We believe that it will lead to a better understanding of the factors that influence disease progression, and ultimately to improvement in patient care. We look forward to working with the MMRF,” stated Geraldine Schechter, M.D., former Chief of the Hematology Section, Washington DC VA Medical Center and principal investigator.

About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer. The five-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 38 percent, one of the lowest of all cancers. In 2012, more than 20,000 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and nearly 11,000 people are predicted to die from the disease.

About the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
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, soon after Kathy's diagnosis with multiple myeloma. The mission of the MMRF is to relentlessly pursue innovative means that accelerate the development of next-generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure. As the world's number-one private funder of multiple myeloma research, the MMRF has raised over $200 million since its inception and directs 90% of total budget to research and related programming. As a result, the MMRF has been awarded Charity Navigator’s coveted four star rating for nine consecutive years, the highest designation for outstanding fiscal responsibility and exceptional efficiency. For more information about the MMRF, please visit www.themmrf.org.

Media contacts:

Anne Quinn Young, MMRF

Cara Amoroso, Feinstein Kean Healthcare


Washington DC VA Medical Center
Michelle Spivak
Director - Community Relations & Public Affairs
202) 745-4037

East Orange Campus, VA New Jersey Health Care System
Sandra Warren
Public Affairs Officer
973-676-1000 ext. 1856