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Categorized | News, Research

One million dollar donation could speed immunotherapy research

Posted on June 28 2014 by Pat Killingsworth | 1,555 views

A significant development on the multiple myeloma research funding front:

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) Launches Linda Rodgers Emory Fund for Accelerating Immune Therapy in Multiple Myeloma

NORWALK, Conn.–(Business Wire)–The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) announced today the generous donation of $1 million by Linda Rodgers Emory, a longtime supporter of the MMRF and recognized philanthropist. The Linda Rodgers Emory Fund for Accelerating Immune Therapy in Multiple Myeloma will urgently advance a pipeline of immunotherapeutic agents to benefit myeloma patients and enable critical research into the basic biology and mechanisms of immune response in myeloma.

“I made this gift to the MMRF to help build and support the best portfolio of immunotherapeutic agents possible,” said Ms. Emory, a multiple myeloma patient. “I am confident that the MMRF will assemble the best scientists and researchers from around the world to focus on this exciting area of cancer research and work diligently to speed clinical trials of promising new approaches to benefit all multiple myeloma patients.”

Although it is not entirely clear how immunotherapy treats cancer, it is thought to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells, or stop cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, helping the immune system increase its effectiveness at eliminating cancer cells. Tremendous strides are being made in other cancers using these types of approaches, including trials recently presented at the Annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Meeting. This funding will be used to rapidly advance trials into the clinic and to support activities of the MMRF Myeloma Immune Therapy Network of Excellence.

“Linda Rodgers Emory has provided profound philanthropic leadership to advancing myeloma research and drug development over the years to which we are extremely grateful,” said Kathy Giusti, Founder and CEO of the MMRF. “This contribution will help us build the most robust pipeline of immunotherapeutic agents for myeloma, and will allow us to build collaborations with experts in immune biology in myeloma and in other cancers.”

On behalf of the myeloma community, let me be one of the first to shout, “THANK YOU!”  I was surprised to learn last year that the MMRF is helping to fund dozens of clinical trials.  Isn’t that what the drug companies are supposed to be doing?  MMRF staffers explained it to me this way when I visited their offices last fall…

MMRF researchers are focused on identifying which drugs–or drug combinations–may make the biggest difference in myeloma patient’s lives.  But their priorities sometimes don’t align with a drug company’s plans.  So whenever possible, the MMRF steps up to help fund and populate clinical trials they think are most important.  Sometimes there isn’t an established drug company involved to help out.  But often there is, resulting in what I think is a bizarre scenario:  a charity helping to subsidize a billion dollar pharmaceutical company’s research.

The good news?  Often MMRF operatives are able to negotiate shared responsibility for an important trial that otherwise wouldn’t have gotten off the ground.  Convincing the drug company to pitch in helps stretch out MMRF research dollars.  So in this case, a one million dollar donation may eventually help fund a half dozen (or more) clinical trials, all involving promising immunotherapy research.

A lot of money may not cure cancer, but the lack of necessary funding could slow things down.  Good to know that the myeloma research cupboard isn’t bare.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

4 Comments For This Post

  1. Holt Says:

    Maybe we should all start playing the lottery with the understanding that we’ll donate the proceeds to MMRF is we hit the jackpot!

  2. suzierose Says:

    “a charity helping to subsidize a billion dollar pharmaceutical company’s research.”


    I think MMRF would be considered analogous to the Diamond Research Center funded by Elizabeth Taylor to advance HIV research:
    The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center was established through the extraordinary vision of Irene Diamond. Mrs. Diamond was deeply affected by the toll the HIV/AIDS epidemic had taken in New York City, and understood that more scientific research was urgently needed. ADARC opened in 1991

    We need the same for myeloma and MMRF does an outstanding job of filling in that gap. Myeloma patients have to be the drivers for advancement when it represents only 1% of ALL cancers.

    Thanks so much to Linda Emory and her generosity.

  3. Mark Says:

    Hi Pat,

    An article about immunotherapy and donating is great segue for me to mention that July is African American Bone Marrow Awareness month. A Caucasian has a 90% chance of finding a matched unrelated donor while an African American has about half that chance. It would be great if more patients get the opportunity to benefit from immunotherapy if they do not have a family match the way I was able to. If anyone reading has a healthy family member it would be much appreciated if they discussed them contacting the Be The Match Registry to potentially join the Registry. It has to be an incredibly special feeling to save a life.


  4. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Mark! AMEN to that!

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