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Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC) Genomics Initiative Provides First In-depth Look at Multiple Myeloma Genome


Clues Related to Unfavorable Outcomes in African Americans also Found

Norwalk, CT — April 20, 2010

An analysis of 38 myeloma tumor genomes surveyed through extensive next-generation sequencing by the Broad Institute has revealed intriguing recurrent mutations that point to important cellular pathways which contribute to multiple myeloma. These data were revealed during an oral presentation entitled “First Impressions of the Multiple Myeloma Genome” by Todd R. Golub, MD, Director of the Cancer Program at the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute. Dr. Golub’s presentation was one of two oral communications on the MMRC Genomics Initiative presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) in Washington, DC.

“The MMRF has shown remarkable foresight in creating the collection of high-quality tissue samples and establishing the Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative,” said Eric Lander, PhD, Founding Director of the Broad Institute and Director of its Genome Biology Program, as well as one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project. “This has enabled us to complete a comprehensive and high-resolution analysis of patient cancer genomes that has great potential to accelerate multiple myeloma research.”

Work is still ongoing and ultimately, hundreds of myeloma samples will be surveyed through this effort. Researchers expect to submit the complete results this year for publication. The MMRC contributes patient samples from its 13 collaborating academic members via a centralized Tissue Bank, established in 2004 and based at the Mayo Clinic-Scottsdale, while the MMRF is providing funding for the project.

In a second oral presentation today, "Analysis of somatic copy number alterations associated with poor prognosis and progression of multiple myeloma in African Americans ", Angela Baker, PhD, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), disclosed data providing critical evidence that certain chromosomal abnormalities associated with unfavorable outcome appear to be more common in tumors from African American myeloma patients. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that African Americans are twice a likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma as compared to Caucasians, and are also greater than two times more likely to die from this incurable disease.

“Although socioeconomic factors and access to health care are likely to participate in the disparities seen in multiple myeloma among African American patients, these results suggest that biological differences in the manifestation or progression of the disease should not be ruled out”, said John Carpten, PhD, Senior Investigator and Director of the Integrated Cancer Genomics Division at TGen. “The high-resolution data generated through the MMRC Genomics Initiative now enables us to uncover new clues about the genetic determinants of multiple myeloma in patients with more aggressive disease”.

“Data from the MMRC Genomics Initiative are helping us to unlock clues behind the biology of multiple myeloma,” said Louise Perkins, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of the MMRF/C. “The data presented today by our partners Broad and TGen illustrate the importance of identifying common cellular pathways, genetic predispositions and biological differences if we are to be successful in targeting the various underlying causes of this disease and develop treatments for individual patients’ needs.”

The MMRC Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative is a genome-mapping program which rapidly accelerates progress made against multiple myeloma by significantly improving the understanding of the biology of the disease. Spearheaded by the MMRC, based on analysis of samples from the MMRC's tissue bank, and conducted in collaboration with the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the Multiple Myeloma Genomic Initiative comprises several research and discovery efforts spanning the spectrum of genomic science. Array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH), gene expression profiling (GEP), DNA methylation analysis and DNA sequencing are among the assays being performed on the Reference Collection of 250 patient multiple myeloma tumor tissue. Data from the MMRC Genomic Initiative and other efforts is freely available to the scientific community through the Multiple Myeloma Genomics Portal, the world's only myeloma-specific repository of genomic data (http://www.myelomagenomics.org).

About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer. The five-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 34 percent, one of the lowest of all cancers. In 2009, approximately 20,000 adults in the United States were diagnosed with multiple myeloma and approximately 11,000 people died 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 $130 million since its inception to fund nearly 100 laboratories worldwide. An outstanding 93% of funds raised go toward research and related programming. The MMRF has supported 40 new compounds and approaches in clinical trials and pre-clinical studies and has facilitated 24 clinical trials through its sister organization, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC). For more information about the MMRF, visit www.themmrf.org.

About the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC)
The Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC) is a 509(a)3 non-profit organization that integrates leading academic institutions to accelerate drug development in multiple myeloma. It is led from MMRC offices in Norwalk, Conn., and comprises 13 member institutions: City of Hope, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute, the Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Mayo Clinic, Ohio State University, St. Vincent's Comprehensive Cancer Center of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers of New York, University Health Network (Princess Margaret Hospital), University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of California, San Francisco, and Washington University in St. Louis.

The MMRC was founded in 2004 by Kathy Giusti, a myeloma patient, and with the help of the scientific community. The MMRC is a sister organization to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), the world's leading funder of multiple myeloma research. The MMRC is widely recognized as an optimal research model to rapidly address critical challenges in drug development and to explore opportunities in the today's most promising research areas in genomics, compound validation, and clinical trials. The MMRC is the only consortium to join academic institutions through membership agreements, customized IT systems, and an integrated tissue bank. For more information, please visit http://www.themmrc.org.

Media Contact:
Terri Clevenger
203-227-0209
tclevenger@continuumhealthcom.com