MMRF Opening Wealth of Myeloma Genomic Data to Researchers via NCI

Magdalena Kegel avatar

by Magdalena Kegel |

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GNS Healthcare announcement

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) is going to add its entire worth of genomic data to the Genomic Data Commons, a National Cancer Institute (NCI) database that aids precision care of myeloma by making cancer data publicly available.

The addition of the multiple myeloma data to the repository is likely to advance myeloma research, as more researchers will have access to key genomic and clinical data.

Although multiple myeloma is one of the most common blood cancers, genomic data acquired in studies is usually not available to the rest of the research community. This lack of accessibility is slowing research progress in the field. The MMRF is the first nonprofit to donate information to the database.

“Data sharing is essential to advancing cancer research, and I cannot overstate the value of the data that MMRF is providing — not only genomic data but also full clinical data as well,” Doug Lowy, MD, NCI acting director, said in a news release.

“Combining genomic and clinical information will create an invaluable resource for all researchers worldwide studying this disease who are working toward new, more effective treatments,” he added.

The Genomic Data Commons allows researchers to deposit genomic data of a tumor, along with imaging, histology data, molecular findings, and treatment responses. This allows researchers worldwide to extract integrated information, advancing research and work toward a precision approach to treatment.

All data deposited in the database is stripped of personal information, such as Social Security numbers, that could allow for identification of  patients, leaving only genomic, clinical, and important demographic data available.

A key contribution from the MMRF to the database will be information from the CoMMpass study (NCT01454297). The study, which included more than 1,150 participants, investigated how clinical outcomes in multiple myeloma related to the personal assessment of a tumor genetic profile.

So far, about 18 percent of the recruited patients are African-Americans, which is important since this ethnic group tends to get myeloma twice as often as people of European descent. The CoMMpass study will continue running for at least the next eight years, and participants will have biopsies with genomic analyses taken every six months, or if their disease progresses.

New data will be continuously deposited in the database, and researchers expect to have at least 1,000 cases by spring 2017. Also, data from the MMRF Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative — the first whole genome sequencing of myeloma — will be deposited in the repository.

“The Genomic Data Commons gains power with each new submission, and the contribution of MMRF data will enable the discovery of potentially actionable and life-changing insights into multiple myeloma and its response to therapy that could be used by cancer researchers, doctors, and patients,” said Louis Staudt, MD, PhD, and director of NCI’s Center for Cancer Genomics.

“Genomic Data Commons’ visualization tools and browsing capabilities will make the MMRF myeloma data more accessible and could help jump start research into this cancer,” he added.