NEW YORK – The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute announced on Thursday that they have partnered to study smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM), a precancerous condition that progresses to active multiple myeloma in around 10 percent of patients every year.
One of the chief aims of the collaboration is to identify genomic and immune markers that may predict which patients with SMM are likely to rapidly progress to active disease. Identifying these biomarkers, the MMRF and Dana Farber hope, will ultimately lead to new treatment strategies to delay or even prevent disease progression.
Through the collaboration, roughly 500 patients with SMM who are already enrolled in Dana Farber's PCROWD or PROMISE studies — both of which are efforts to screen and study patients with a high risk of developing blood cancers — will have the chance to contribute blood samples and medical records to the MMRF's CureCloud study.
CureCloud is a remote, direct-to-patient initiative funded by the MMRF through which participants can contribute blood samples from home with the assistance of a mobile phlebotomist. The blood samples undergo genomic analysis though the MMRF's 70-gene cell-free circulating DNA test for multiple myeloma, which is designed to detect somatic variants in genes that are commonly altered or result from clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential. The results from the blood-based next-generation sequencing are returned directly to patients and their treating physicians.
Additionally, the data gleaned from the liquid biopsy test will be linked with deidentified clinical data from patients' electronic health records, as well as to patients' whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing data, circulating tumor cell data, and single-cell RNA sequencing data from both tumor and immune cells. Altogether, this information will comprise "the most complete picture of SMM ever assembled," according to the MMRF and Dana Farber.
"Recent research efforts driven by the MMRF and our partners have identified potential genomic and immune markers that may drive myeloma risk and progression," MMRF CSO Daniel Auclair said in a statement. "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."
Auclair will give a presentation on the 70-gene liquid biopsy assay during the upcoming American Society of Hematology annual meeting.
In addition to Dana Farber, the MMRF has also partnered with the Broad Institute, My Gene Counsel, Cota Healthcare, Prometheus Research, among others. In total, the CureCloud Initiative is expected to enroll 5,000 patients. Participants' NGS results will be aggregated with a host of other datasets the MMRF has collected, including immune profiles gleaned through the MMF's Immune Atlas initiative, launched in 2019.