MMRF Joins Dana-Farber to Advance Research in Smoldering Myeloma

Marta Figueiredo, PhD avatar

by Marta Figueiredo, PhD |

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smoldering multiple myeloma

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) has joined forces with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to develop new biomarkers and treatments for people with smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) — a precursor condition to multiple myeloma.

The collaboration will take advantage of MMRF’s data hub CureCloud and at-home genetic test program and Dana Farber’s expertise in SMM to build “the most comprehensive data set” for SMM, Irene Ghobrial, MD, the director of Dana-Farber’s clinical investigator research program, said in a press release.

“Recent research efforts driven by the MMRF and our partners have identified potential genomic and immune markers that may drive myeloma risk and progression,” said Daniel Auclair, PhD, MMRF’s chief scientific officer.

“This collaboration with Dana-Farber will accelerate and enhance our knowledge of risk factors, allowing us to more precisely identify those patients at higher risk of progression to active disease, and laying the groundwork for future transformative, and possibly curative, clinical trials,” he added.

While SMM itself is not symptomatic or dangerous, about half of these patients will see their disease progress to active multiple myeloma after five years.

People with SMM are estimated to have a rate of progression of about 10% per year. However, a recent MMFR-funded study involving Dana-Farber researchers and others, showed that patients with certain genetic abnormalities have a higher risk of rapid progression to multiple myeloma.

Current standard care for SMM is to watch and wait until patients progress before providing treatment, but increasing evidence suggests that treating high-risk SMM patients can significantly delay their progression into full-blown multiple myeloma.

The newly established MMRF-Dana Farber collaboration aims to further advance the identification of these high-risk patients, which could help guide future clinical trials and open new therapeutic avenues to delay or even prevent disease progression.

Through this MMFR-funded initiative, 500 SMM patients enrolled in Dana-Farber’s PROMISE (NCT03689595) and PCROWD (NCT02269592) studies — designed to study people with myeloma precursor diseases — will be able to donate their blood samples and electronic health records to the MMRF CureCloud study (NCT03657251).

Launched in 2019, CureCloud is a direct-to-patient research initiative designed to create a hub of genetic and clinical data in myeloma that includes a first-of-its-kind genetic test of blood samples, collected at home, whose results are returned directly to patients and their clinicians.

Participating SMM patients will have their blood samples analyzed through the MM-70 genetic test, designed to detect mutations in 70 genes that are commonly altered in people with multiple myeloma or clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential. The latter is an aging-related disorder in which blood-forming cells acquire certain mutations that increase the risk of developing blood cancers.

“Patients who participate will receive their genomic test results, which may be helpful in determining their risk of progression to active myeloma and identifying future clinical trials,” said Ghobrial, who is also a principal investigator of the PROMISE and PCROWD studies.

MM-70 results from SMM patients will be linked to their health records and additional genetic and molecular data from both tumor and immune cells to create the most complete picture of SMM ever assembled. All patient data will be de-identified and securely stored in the CureCloud database.

The database will be accessible to the whole myeloma community, including clinicians, researchers, and patients. Researchers may use CureCloud to identify new therapeutic targets for SMM, while clinicians and patients may use the stored information to make well-informed clinical decisions.

The repository also contains information from other studies led by the foundation. These include CoMMpass (NCT01454297), the largest longitudinal genomic study conducted in people with multiple myeloma to date, which has already identified specific mutations that predict poor outcomes in these patients.

The MM-70 test, as well as results from more than 160 patients already enrolled in CureCloud, were recently presented by Auclair in a poster at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology, held virtually Dec. 5–8.

MMRF and Dana-Farber, in collaboration with the Perelman Family Foundation and several leading myeloma academic centers, have also contributed to the discovery of genetic markers of risk in other myeloma precursor diseases, such as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance.