Some call it individualized medicine. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) has labeled it “precision medicine.” By any name, the future of cancer therapy centers on the concept of using a patient’s unique genetic makeup to help beat back cancer and improve our qualify of life.
To this end, MMRF planners have committed over 50 million dollars to advance this revolutionary principle. It all revolves around genomics. Here’s how it works:
The Multiple Myeloma Genomics initiative (MMGI) is focused on 400 patient samples, collected back in 2004 from 16 different research sites. The new CoMMpass study is enrolling 1000 newly diagnosed patients, including 8 years of comprehensive follow up.
Patients with “actionable” molecular alterations are flagged and moved into specific clinical trials relating to their condition. And researchers aren’t just focused on standard red flags like chromosome 13 deletions or 4:14 translocations. An additional half dozen actionable genetic issues will be targeted with one or more additional agents, designed specifically to hit that type of myeloma hard.
For example, did you know that the infamous BRAF gene–best known as a leading contributor to difficult to treat complications associated with breast cancer–is also a complication for myeloma patients too?
MMRF research partners have developed a specific therapy that targets a BRAF myeloma patient’s cancer “like a heat seeking missile,” according to Daniel Auclair, the MMRF’s Research Director.
I will confess that I don’t understand all of the possible applications or ramifications involved in the program. But I do know enough to be excited about the possibilities: that the dream of matching therapies that work best individual patients–based on their genetic makeup–may finally be a reality.
One of the keys to targeted therapies are sure to be a variety of different up and coming immunotherapy drugs. I’ll focus on that in a series of posts starting later this week.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat